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/^Luaif 7f,;,s: 






A.M. 1896 


A.B. 1887 



Empress of Austria 



Empress of Austria 

fA Memoir 

By A. De burgh 

With Eighty Illustrations 


Hutchinson Gf Co. 

Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott Company 


^u^.^^J'j. I. 8r 







I'rinted by >I«zelI, Watson, ft Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury, 


WHEN I undertook to write a memoir of the 
late Empress of Austria, I was fully aware 
of the great difficulties I should encounter, especially 
as the .material I had collected from various quarters 
was enormous, and I felt it to be my duty to sift it 
thoroughly and to select only such parts as I could 
myself believe to be authentic. I have personally had 
the happiness of meeting the illustrious lady who is 
the subject of my sketch ; I have seen her on many 
occasions and followed with interest the vicissitudes of 
her life for the last thirty years ; I have often had 
occasion to write about her, and have also had the 
privilege of knowing some of those who were in her 
entourage^ and who, from time to time, have given 
me news, anecdotes, and reminiscences of the woman 
they loved with all their heart and soul. 

I am enabled to give some photographs from life 


8 Preface 

and from pictures, which, I believe, are not public 
property, and for the reproduction of which I have 
received special permission. It is well known that 
the Empress had a great aversion to being photo- 
graphed, especially during the latter part of her life, 
and it will therefore greatly interest my readers to 
see the reproduction of a photograph taken of Her 
Majesty when walking with the Emperor at Kissingen 
only a few months before her death. Even that 
photograph had to be instantaneous, for she was 
prepared with a fan and sunshade to prevent her 
portrait being taken. 

In respect to Chapters XIII. and XIV., the various 
reports I have had from eye-witnesses coincide so fully 
with those published at the time in the daily press, 
that I have largely quoted from them, and have used 
principally the reports as they appeared in the Daily 



















I o G^ntcnts 







The Empress in Court Dress .4 

Possenhofen 23 

Ischl 27 

The Empress as a Bride . . . • 31 

The Emperor Fifty Years ago 35 

Tlie Emperor and Empress immediately after their Marriage . 43 

The Imperial Palace, Vienna 47 

The Empress in the Dress worn by her at her Son's Wedding 51 

An Imperial Group, 1858 55 

The Gardens of SchOnbrunn 61 

The Empress's Reception-room at Sch5nbrunn . . . .67 

1 he Archduchess Marie Valerie, Daughter of the Empress . . 72 
The Archduchess Gisela, Daughter of the Empress '73 

The Castle of Laxenburg 79 

The Imperial Villa at Ischl 83 

The Royal Palace in Buda-Pesth 91 

The Empress soon after her Marriage 97 

The Emperor at about Thirty-five loi 

The Palace of G5dol0 103 

The Empress in 1873 106 

List of Illustrations n 


The Archduchess Otto, and her Youngest Son, Direct Heir to the 
Throne 113 

The Archduke Frederick 117 

The Archduchess Isabel, Wife of the Archduke Frederick -'19 

Princess Mettemich 121 

The Archduchess Marie Theresa, Widow of the Emperor's Brother 123 

The Palace of the Archduke Frederick in Vienna . . .125 

The Late Madame Wolter, Court Actress 127 

Princess Montenuovo 129 

Countess Pototzka 131 

Countess Wydenbruck 133 

Countess Josephine Kinsky 135 

Countess Haas-Wachter 137 

The Ex-Queen of Hanover 138 

A Portrait of the Empress by Winterhalter 145 

The Drawing-room, Sch6nbrunn 153 

The Archduchess Valerie, with her Husband and Family • IS7 

The Palace of Lainz 167 

The Achilleon, on the Island of Corfu 169 

The Gates at the Achilleon 172 

The Heine Temple, the Achilleon 173 

The Statue of Heinrich Heine, the Achilleon 175 

The Terrace on First Floor, the Achilleon 177 

The Open Staircase at the Achilleon 179 

The Monument to the Crown Prince in Corfu, erected by the Late 

Empress 183 

The Empress on Horseback 193 

Another Portrait of the Empress on Horseback . .197 

The Emperor on Horseback 203 

The Yacht Afiramare 206 

The Castle of Miramare 213 

The Empress's Dining-room at Miramare 215 

The Empress's Bedroom at Miramare 217 

Wildbad Gastein 219 

12 List of Illustrations 


Territet Grand Hotel 221 

The Karer See Hotel 223 

The Dolomites 227 

The Dolomites •. 231 

Caux Grand Hotel 237 

Geneva 241 

Ludvvig II. of Bavaria 249 

The Ex-Queen of Naples, Sister of the Empress .... 263 
The Late Duchesse d'Alen9on, Sister of the Empress . . 265 

The Late Crown Prince Rudolf 269 

Princess Stephanie, Widow of the Late Crown Prince . . . 276 
Princess Elizabeth, Only Child of the Late Crown Prince . 277 
The Crown Princess and her Daughter on Horseback . . . 280 
The Emperor's Youngest Brother, Ludwig Victor .... 287 
The Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Heir-apparent . . . .291 
One of the Latest Portraits of the Empress 297 

A Snapshot of the Emperor and Empress, taken shortly before her 

Assassination 305 

The H6tel Beau Rivage 308 

Montreux 311 

The Place of the Assassination 315 

Countess Sztaray, Lady-in-waiting 319 

The Lying in State at the Hdtel Beau Rivage .... 325 

The Coffin removed to the Station at Geneva 331 

One of the Latest Portraits of the Empress 337 

The Last Rites performed over the Coffin in the Church of the 
Capuchins 353 

The Capuchin Church, in the Crypt of which is the Tomb of the 

Habsburgs 357 

The Quadrangle, Imperial Palace, Vienna 375 

A Late Portrait of the Emperor, with the Ribbon and Star of the 

Garter ........... 379 


WHEN years hence the historian will chronicle the 
events of the nineteenth century, he will have 
to record many tragedies which have befallen personages 
who were prominently before the public — murders and 
suicides of reigning monarchs or heirs to crowns 
and of men chosen to preside over the destinies of 
nations, the sudden deaths of many born to the 
purple under the saddest circumstances, and the fall of 
mighty thrones ; he will have to speak of revolutions 
and rebellions, of bloody deeds committed by members 
of secret societies, and of cruel wars, becoming more 
terrible every year as the inventive spirit of our time 
succeeds in the construction of machinery for the 
wholesale destruction of mankind. 

And amongst the array of tragedies he will have to 
record the murder of a woman who, though occupying 
an exalted position, was essentially a friend of the 


1 4 Introduction 

people, and especially of the poor, the miserable, and 
the suffering, with whom she was ever in sympathy, 
and for whom she seemed to live. 

The writing of the life-story of the late Empress 
Elizabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary, is to me 
a labour of love: I have ever admired her as I saw 
her pass through the different stages of her career ; I 
have had many times the privilege of seeing and 
observing her and her doings ; I have felt for her the 
most sincere sympathy in the times of her suffering, 
she has had my heart-felt good wishes in the time 
of her joy ; I have been fully aware of her unostenta- 
tious work of benevolence ; I have closely followed 
her many deeds of generosity and unselfishness, and of 
many of them I have become personally cognisant ; 
I have seen her making the woes of others her 
own, and doing all in her power to alleviate the 
grief and pain of her neighbours, were they her own 
people, or were they strangers — her kindness of heart 
knew no limits. 

Is it not an appalling irony of life, that the beautiful 
and lonely Empress, who for so many years had 
wandered from place to place doing good — who, remote 
from all the distractions of politics and Court life. 

Introduction 1 5 

herself scourged by so many unspeakable sorrows, only 
seeking for peace and rest for her troubled soul, appeal- 
ing to the sympathy of mankind — should have been 
assassinated in cold blood by an obscure ruffian, who 

had no other grudge against her but that he hated all 
whose position was better than his own ? 

It is never an easy task to write a biography of 
any one who has just departed this life ; and it becomes 
especially difficult when one feels that one cannot 
do full justice to the subject, that it is impossible to 
adequately describe a life so beautiful, so interesting, 
as that which I shall try to represent in this memoir. 

It would be difficult to find any woman in this 
century who has been overwhelmed by such terrible 
events as those that mercilessly followed the late 
Empress ; and to say this means much, for there are 
now living some women who have not only lost their 
beloved ones, but their thrones as well. 

I have endeavoured in one of the chapters of this 
work to crowd into a limited space the misfortunes of 
the late Empress of Austria: naturally I can only 
speak of a few of the more important ones. As an 
affectionate wife she shared, as a matter of course, all 
the troubles and worries of her imperial spouse, and 

1 6 Introduction 

felt it ever her duty to stand by him with consolation 
and love, and so make less bitter the cup it was his fate 
to drink. 

Nothing can be more characteristic and pathetic than 
her description of her condition of mind to one of her 
intimates some years ago. " When one has no wish to 
live longer," she said, " one is in reality not alive." 
Then she added : " There is in life for every one a 
moment when he dies inwardly, and it is not necessary 
that this should happen only at the death of the body." 

The love that she had for her son, and the hope that 
had centred in his career, were indescribable. What 
his terrible death meant to her is expressed in her 
own words just quoted ; her heart was slain. 

Undoubtedly the Empress had the strange tempera- 
ment of the Wittelsbach family to which she belonged ; 
by this the intense sympathy that existed between her 
and King Ludwig, her cousin, may be explained — it 
could only spring from a certain sense of kinship of 

One of our great psychologists remarked, as the 
outcome of long observations, " The unhappy flee 
where no man pursueth." And so it was with poor 
Elizabeth ; she appeared haunted and chased by sad 


Introduction 1 7 

memories, by the phantoms of past hopes and dead 
affections, and she became a wanderer, seeking in vain 
for rest. 

Her sense of duty was strongly developed, and her 
liberal ideas have certainly done much to shed lustre 
upon the era of Francis Joseph. It is true she rarely 
took any part in politics; but she improved the social 
reputation of her Court, and in no small measure 
contributed to the extraordinary popularity of the 
Emperor, having greatly assisted him in winning the 
love and attachment of his heterogeneous subjects; 
and no one has acknowledged this more readily than 
Francis Joseph himself. 

It was a fact especially observable in Elizabeth, that 
whenever called upon to become the consoler of her 
husband her strength never failed her ; and however 
terrible the reaction may have been afterwards, she was 
always ready to stand by his side, when it became 
necessary either to impart to him grievous news or to 
encourage him in the bearing of them. 

The Empress-Queen had been all her life a staunch 
adherer of the Roman Catholic Church ; she hardly 
ever passed a day without hearing Mass, and she ever 
found great consolation in her religion ; but by no means 


1 8 Introduction 

was she narrow-minded, and amongst her greatest 
friends she numbered Protestants, Jews, and even 
Mohammedans. As we are aware, she had just come 
from a visit to her friend the Baroness Rothschild, who 
has a most charming villa on the shore of Lake Leman, 
when she fell a victim to the murderer's steel. In 
her deeds of benevolence she knew no creed — all 
sufferers were alike to her ; and perhaps in that very 
fact she showed that she was a true follower of the 
Great Teacher. 






ON the shores of the Lake of Starenberg, not 
far from the Bavarian capital, Munich, in the 
midst of a charming landscape of mountain and vale, 
surrounded by a park and beautiful gardens, bordering 
on picturesque forests of beech trees, there stands 
the Castle of Possenhofen, which nestles on the lake 
side among the roses and flowers which have made 
those regions renowned. This castle was once the 
home of the late Empress of Austria. Duke Maxi- 
milian of Bavaria and his wife lived here the life 
of a country squire and squiress, happy in the midst 
of a family of boys and girls, some of whom have 
been called to fill most exalted positions, and whose 
names have become well known for their intrepid 
deeds, their physical strength and endurance and 

To-day the visitor to the castle and park will be 
reminded of some of the romances which occurred 
among the shady avenues and beautiful rose gardens 
of this charming spot ; he will see before his mind's 


12 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

eye the sprightly Princess Elizabeth, her more serious 
elder sister Helen, the younger happy children 
chasing each other through the avenues and rose 
walks of the gardens, and the boys playing the games 
of happy childhood. 

It is reported that Elizabeth was the favourite child 
of her father, and his constant companion on his 
excursions in the mountainous districts. Duke Maxi- 
milian was a scientist and student ; but he did not 
disdain recreations, and found happiness in moving 
amongst the peasants of his neighbourhood, to 
whom he often would play on his zither, frequently 
accompanied by his daughter Elizabeth. The girl 
grew up a lover of nature, a child of the woods, 
loving to wander about on the mountain sides or 
racing a pony along the shores of the lake. She 
had the happiest of childhoods, being allowed to run 
wild with her brothers amongst the Bavarian Alps, 
where she learned to ride and row and run as 
they did, and formed that taste for athletic exercises 
which distinguished her through life. She was 
troubled little with education, and in later years would 
laughingly declare that at that time she was the most 
ignorant princess in Europe, as she knew nothing save 
the rudiments of some half-dozen languages and what 
she had picked up at the knee of her father. I need 
not say that her modesty was somewhat exaggerated. 

The Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria 


The Duchess Ludovica, Elizabeth's mother, and 
sister of the Archduchess Sophie, mother of Francis 
Joseph, was a proud, ambitious woman, and had 
centred all her hopes on her eldest daughter, whom 
she had resolved should be Empress of Austria ; and 
when some duenna approached her with the information 

that the Duchess Elizabeth was masquerading with 
her brothers, and had played the zither on the hill 
side while the peasants danced to the strains of her 
instrument, or had been belated in the mountains and 
had spent the night in a deserted hut, Her Royal 
Highness would smile indifferently, and say she would 
take the child in hand later on, but for the present 
was too much occupied to attend to her. 

24 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

How the young Princess loved to climb the rugged 
peaks of the Alps, and to gather the Edelweiss and 
other Alpine flowers, is still related amongst the 
peasantry of the district. She was not devoted to 
study, which seemed slow to her; she preferred the 
lessons she received from observation and contempla- 
tion of nature itself. As a matter of fact she was 
not brought up to fill the exalted position to which 
she was afterwards called ; and but for her graceful 
beauty Elizabeth of Bavaria would certainly have 
escaped the notice of her cousin, the then young 
Emperor of Austria, whose troth was currently re- 
ported to be pledged to her elder sister, Helen. 

Elizabeth's marriage was a love match, at any rate 
on one side, and most likely on both ; and that it 
proved a most beneficent one for the Emperor is well 
known, and has frequently been confirmed by himself 
in addresses to his subjects. However this may 
be, no young princess declines the hand of such an 
emperor as Francis Joseph. Never, even among the 
most romantic of the romantic middle classes — for it 
is a libel to say that middle-class young people are 
not romantic — was a young fellow so much in love 
with his fiancee as was Francis Joseph with his sixteen- 
year-old bride. The Emperor nourished the most 
passionate and chivalrous devotion for the beautiful 
Elizabeth, whom he had discovered for himself without 


The Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria 25 

the aid of ambassador or foreign minister, as he used 
laughingly to boast to members of his house, when 
there was a question of this alliance or that being 
arranged for him by the diplomatic statesmen. It 
needed all his love, however, to reconcile his high- 
spirited youthful consort to her new position. 

Duke Maximilian was in the habit of spending the 
winter at his beautiful palace in Munich, but Elizabeth 
was never happy there. Although the apartments were 
of large dimensions and beautifully adorned with 
frescoes by Kaulbach, the Princess always thought 
them narrow ; she often said that she could not breathe 
in those small rooms, and used to enjoy principally to 
run about in the large riding school which was attached 
to the palace. Here she loved what she called '* play- 
ing circus." She mounted and rode the most restive 
and unmanageable horses, and did not seem to know 
what fear was. Once she was thrown by one of the 
blood horses ; a cry of terror sounded through the 
arena ; but the little Duchess, not in the least frightened, 
jumped up from the ground where she had landed, and 
smilingly begged to be allowed to mount the horse 
again, which wish was not granted by her frightened 

The Duchess Ludovica was a sister of King 
Ludwig I. of Bavaria, and was for more than fifty 
years the popular and universally beloved mistress of 

26 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

Possenhofen. She was highly intellectual, well known 
for her wit and intelligence, and it was no doubt due 
to the fact that she personally undertook to superintend 
the education of her children that they all displayed 
a great love for science and art. 

Princess Elizabeth Amalie Eugenie, the late Empress, 
was the second daughter of Duke Maximilian and his 
wife Ludovica Maria, and was born on the 24th of 
December, 1837 — a date which is considered to be 
of ill omen in many parts of the world. As already 
mentioned, her father devoted his life to the study of 
natural history, national economy, and history. Both 
Princess " Lisel," as the late Empress was called, and her 
eldest brother, Ludwig, were quite different from the 
other members of the family ; they were full of life 
and wit, but the others were serious and studious. 
Princess Elizabeth was considered a dreamer, like her 
second brother, Charles Theodore. She was such a 
sensitive and affectionate child that both parents could 
not help spoiling her to a very great extent ; but 
from her very first youth she showed a great pre- 
dilection for the pleasures nature can offer and for 
country life. When but little over fifteen years of 
age, she undertook her first journey. With her mother 
and her sisters she went to Ischl to spend the summer, 
where the parents of Francis Joseph also had their 
summer residence. It was rumoured that the visit 

The Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria 29 

of the ducal family was not without purpose, and 
the Duchess was fondly hoping to see the crown of 
an empress placed upon the brow of her eldest 
daughter, Helen. 

On the 1 6th of August, 1853, a most lovely summer 
day, the Emperor appeared quite unexpectedly at that 
popular summer resort. Although it was his habit to 
spend a month there every year with his parents, 
his unlooked-for arrival embarrassed the Bavarian 
ladies not a little, as they were apparently not prepared 
with the necessary wardrobe for the reception of so 
exalted a guest, and everything possible was done to 
furnish Princess Helen with such finery as would 
suit her high position and make her appear at her 

Elizabeth had been out for a walk, and, returning, 
entered unannounced, as usual, the apartments of her 
aunt, the Archduchess Sophie, the mother of Francis 
Joseph, where she always found some dainties prepared 
for her special delectation. Her cheeks the colour 
of a sun-kissed peach, a large bouquet of wild flowers 
in her hand, she ran into the salon ; without the 
slightest embarrassment she immediately recognised 
the Emperor from the portraits she had seen, and, 
running up to him, she exclaimed in a clear child's 
voice, *' God greet thee, cousin ! " 

The Emperor was enchanted by the charming 

30 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

apparition ; and when Princess Helen, decked out 
to perfection, entered the salon, she was too late — 
the Emperor of Austria had neither hand nor heart 
to bestow upon her. 

On the same evening a carriage arrived at the 
villa to take a party out for a drive to a near-lying 
village. The Emperor placed a shawl upon his 
mother's shoulders, and at the same time slipped ofF 
from her arm a diamond bangle which she wore, 
whispering to her, " This we shall lay under Elizabeth's 
serviette at tea." The Archduchess Sophie at once 
understood the situation ; she did not put a single 
question to her son ; and when the next morning 
the Archduchess went to Mass with her Bavarian 
relatives, she stepped back at the door and allowed 
Princess Elizabeth to enter first. That was a public 
announcement of the great event more pronounced 
than if it had been given out in the Official Gazette. 
But when the Mass was ended the youthful Emperor 
took the child-Princess Elizabeth by her hand and 
led her up to the altar, and meeting the officiating 
priest as he came down the steps, said to him, " Pastor, 
please bless us ; this is my intended bride." On the 
23rd of August the Vienna Gazette published the 
first official news of the betrothal. 

The Duchess Helen of Bavaria married afterwards 
the Prince of Thurn and Taxis, and died eight years 

The Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria 33 

ago ; her son, the present Prince Albert, is married 
to an Austrian archduchess, known in England as an 
authoress, having published in English a well-known 
work on the Austrian mountain districts, and who has 
one son, Prince Francis Joseph. 

The betrothal of the sixteen-year-old Princess 
Elizabeth to the Emperor, who was twenty-three and 
a man of extreme good looks and figure, was very 
popular, both in Bavaria and Austria. It is generally 
accepted as a fact that the young bride was at that 
time the most beautiful princess in Christendom. It 
is told that, when Elizabeth was informed that she 
should be Empress, she exclaimed, " It cannot be 
possible ; I am such an insignificant little thing " ; but 
when her aunt assured her that Francis Joseph was 
absolutely in earnest, and would have no other wife but 
" Lisel," she joyfully accepted the Emperor-King's 
proposal, and three days afterwards the betrothal of the 
young couple was solemnly consecrated in the palace 
chapel of Ischl. Eight months later they were 
wedded at St. Augustine's by the Prince Archbishop 
of Vienna amidst public rejoicings, in which the whole 
population of Austria participated, the City Council 
giving general expression of its loyal gladness by 
liberally dowering forty penniless brides whose nuptial 
rites were celebrated on the day of the imperial wedding. 

When the Emperor, shortly after his betrothal, met 


34 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

Count O'Donnell, who had saved his life at the time 
the insane Libenye had attempted to murder him, 
he addressed the young Austro-Irish officer thus : 
" In my happiness I to-day thank you again with all 
my heart that you have saved my life." 

At the time the betrothal became known at Ischl, 
the people seemed almost unable to show sufficiently 
their joy and happiness over the event. On the young 
Emperor returning with his bride one night from an 
excursion from Hallstadt, the whole town was magnifi- 
cently illuminated ; the Austrian and Bavarian colours 
were gracefully intertwined, and thousands upon 
thousands of lamps were placed along the roads and 
streets and promenades ; and from the heights and peaks 
of the surrounding mountains beacons threw their 
glare, and upon the highest peak of all a temple in 
beautiful classic style, surmounted by an imperial crown 
over the united initials of the royal bridegroom and 
bride, was traced out in many-coloured lamps, which 
showed their radiance for miles around. 

The winter following his engagement the young 
sovereign frequently visited Munich, where his bride 
sojourned ; and the populace of the Bavarian capital 
testified by their many ovations and demonstrations of 
joy how pleased they were that one of the daughters 
of their own country should be selected to be the first 
Catholic lady of Europe and consort of the proudest 

The Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria 37 

of its rulers. The Emperor's last visit to Munich 
was on the 9th of March, 1854. When he left 
the ducal palace eight days later in an open carriage 
drawn by six horses, to commence his journey back 
to Vienna, he stood up in his carriage, and looked 
back to the upper storey of the residence, where there 
stood at the window in all her radiant beauty and 
youth the woman who was in future to share joy 
and grief with him. Taking ofF his military cap and 
swinging it towards his bride, and throwing a kiss 
with his other hand, he called with loud voice, " Au 
revoir ; in five weeks thou shalt be mine at Vienna ! " 

It may prove interesting to trace the lives of the 
sisters and brothers of the late Empress, other than the 
eldest, of whom I have just spoken. The next in age, 
Princess Maria Sophia, is the ex-Queen of the Two 
Sicilies; she married the Crown Prince of Naples, after- 
wards Francis II., in 1859, and greatly distinguished 
herself by her bravery and intrepidity during the siege 
of Gaeta by the Garibaldian and Italian troops. 
Princess Matilda Louisa married Prince Louis of 
Bourbon, Count of Trani, in 1861, who was brother 
of King Francis II., and has been a widow for 
the past twelve years, her husband having committed 
suicide by drowning himself in a fit of temporary 
insanity. The youngest. Princess Sophie Charlotte, 
was the betrothed bride of the unfortunate King 

3 8 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

Ludwig II. of Bavaria, until he suddenly and mysteri- 
ously broke ofF his engagement ; she afterwards wedded 
the Due d'Alen^on (in 1868), and was one of the 
victims of the memorable conflagration at the Charity 
Bazaar which plunged the French aristocracy into 
mourning not long ago. There were also three 
brothers: Duke Ludwig William, who in 1859 ^^"" 
nounced his right of succession upon contracting a 
morganatic marriage with an actress ; Duke Charles 
Theodore, the renowned oculist and philanthropist, and 
present head of the ducal house of Bavaria, who resides 
in Tegernsee in Bavaria ; and Duke Maximilian, who 
died in 1893. 

I have had occasion to say before that the 
Princess Elizabeth preferred roaming through the 
woods and forests to sitting at a desk to study, 
but she nevertheless displayed remarkable talent as 
a student of natural science, geography, drawing, 
painting, and music, and excelled in the practice of 
many physical exercises, particularly horsemanship and 
swimming. She was also all her life a great pedestrian. 






ON the 24th of April, 1854, the Princess Elizabeth 
of Bavaria became Empress of Austria, the 
wife of the proudest of all monarchs of Europe, — 
the Apostolic King of Hungary ; King of Bohemia, 
Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria, Illyria, 
and Jerusalem ; a Duke, Prince, or Lord of a hundred 
other places, and the possessor of more titles than any 
other sovereign ; a man through whose veins flows 
the blood of all the great reigning families, Bourbon, 
Plantagenet, and Stuart, as well as that of a hundred 
Roman Emperors. 

The imperial bride arrived at Schonbrunn from 
Linz in Upper Austria, whence she had' taken a steamer, 
which brought her down the beautiful blue Danube. 
She landed on Saturday at Nussdorf, near Vienna, 
where she was met by the Emperor in person. 

The solemnisation of the imperial nuptials took 
place in the Court Church of St. Augustine by the 

Cardinal Prince Archbishop of Vienna, and the greatest 


4^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

enthusiasm prevailed amongst the populace. The girl 
bride won the hearts of all ; and the greater was the 
love borne for her when it became known that she 
had begged of the Emperor, as the first favour to be 
granted to the wife, the release of the political prisoners, 
three hundred and fifty-six of whom received pardon. 
All criminal suits in Galicia for treason were quashed, 
and similar suits for offences against His Majesty were 
erased entirely after the ist of May. 

According to an ancient custom, the bride drove in 
great state from the Theresianum, where she had 
arrived early in the morning, to the imperial castle, 
and was received by a most brilliant assembly, gathered 
together to do honour to their future Queen. The 
pageant moved over a new stone bridge, which 
was named after her the " Elizabeth Bridge." By 
a strange coincidence this bridge was demolished this 
year (1898), and so has ceased to exist in the same year 
as she who had given it her name. 

The bride wore a pale pink satin dress, beautifully 
embroidered with silver and adorned with white roses, 
a white lace shawl, and a most brilliant diamond tiara, 
which was only partly visible under a wreath of white 
and red roses. The pomp of the ceremony surpassed 
anything seen during this century, and the banquet 
which followed was one of the most magnificent 
functions recorded in the annals of our times. The 


r ^ 



\y? ^^ri,'" 








: =^*- 

The Empress Elizabeth 45 

wedding took place at 6.30 p.m. The scene was 
brilliant in the extreme, — the white, red, and blue 
uniforms of the generals ; the gorgeous national cos- 
tumes of the Hungarian and Polish nobles ; the 
exquisite dresses of the ladies ; interspersed with the 
thickly gold-embroidered costumes of the Privy Coun- 
cillors, Ministers, and Chamberlains ; the scarlet of the 
Cardinals, and violet of the Bishops ; the various, rich, 
and even fantastic apparel of the Ambassadors and 
Ministers, combined to form a fairy-like picture of over- 
whelming grandeur. There were present more than 
seventy archbishops and bishops, all bedecked with the 
splendid garments of cloth of gold which are on such 
occasions used in the Roman ceremonial. 

At the entry of the bridal couple the Cardinal 
Archbishop offered them the holy water, with which 
they crossed themselves, afterwards taking their places 
under a rich canopy of gold and velvet. The service 
lasted about half an hour, after which the thunder of 
cannon announced to the people that the Princess 
Elizabeth had become Empress of Austria. 

The Emperor and Empress moved now into the 
Throne Room of the Palace (the Church of St. 
Augustine adjoins the castle), where the former in- 
troduced to the Empress the renowned and venerable 
Field-Marshal Count Radetzky, Prince Windischgratz, 
and the great Croatian hero Jelacic, these three being 

46 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

at the time the greatest in the Empire. Afterwards 
the Empress . received the Ambassadors and Ministers 
and their wives, generals and high officials, officers and 
deputations from the various provinces. 

After their marriage their Imperial Majesties 
travelled through Hungary and the Austrian Crown 
lands, the tour proving a never-ending triumphal 

It was reported at the time, and not without truth, 
that the enthusiastic receptions accorded to her, at 
least in Vienna, were far more a personal compliment 
to the young Empress than an expression of loyalty ; 
in fact, the aristocracy of Austria thought that a 
Princess from a collateral branch of the Bavarian house 
was not good enough for the Emperor, and they did 
not disguise their feelings. The arrogant nobles of 
Vienna actually formed a clique against her, with the 
natural result that the young couple reserved their 
smiles and cordial greetings for Buda-Pesth, the second 
city in the realm, where, in direct contrast to the 
coolness of the patrician circles in Vienna, the young 
Princess was literally worshipped. 

Soon after PVancis Joseph and Elizabeth had been 
united in matrimony, and when the youthful beauty 
and affability of the Empress had overcome the 
adverse feeling entertained by some against her, she 
was acknowledged to be not only the most beautiful 

The Empress Elizabeth 49 

woman but also the most popular queen in Europe ; 
she had a noble bearing, a most fascinating and 
charming face, encircled by glossy chestnut hair of 
extraordinary length and thickness, and in addition 
to rare personal charms she had also great mental 
gifts, which impressed every one who came in contact 
with her. 

Like her husband's great-aunt, Marie Antoinette, 
Queen of France, the Empress refused to comply with 
the strict rules of etiquette. Some of the women of 
the bed-chamber who were on duty at that time 
remember to this day what sensations the young 
Empress created because she would insist on wearing 
her boots g month or longer, instead of stretching 
a new pair every day for those who thought that 
they had a right to them ; for according to the ancient 
customs of the Court the Empress could wear a pair 
of boots but once. 

These said demure creatures of the then most buck- 
ram Court of Europe were positively shocked at the 
indifference to all established rules which the young 
sovereign displayed. 

At the first State dinner, contrary to all custom, 
she took off her gloves. An elderly Court lady 
remarked quietly upon it to the young Empress. 
"Why not.^" she asked. "Because it is a deviation 
from the rules," was the answer. "Then let the 


50 Elizabeth, Empress o( Austria 

deviation henceforth be the rule," was the retort ; 
and not that deviation only, but many more, hence- 
forth became the rule, because the new Empress was 
not an ordinary Princess — she was clever and accom- 
plished in the highest degree, and her will was law : 
she knew her position. 

There was never any doubt that the Empress had 
no love for the life of state and ceremonial which she 
had to lead when at home. This was often trying 
to the patient and loving husband, and sometimes it 
was supposed that their relations were strained ; but 
innumerable instances prove beyond all doubt that 
it was not so ; and the rumours which some thirty 
years ago made their appearance from time to time, 
to the effect that there existed a serious misunder- 
standing on account of some adventure of the 
Emperor's, are also discredited by those who ought 
to know. There is very little if any truth in the 
tales made up and spread by gossip-mongers, who 
unfortunately are here and everywhere, and to whom 
no man or woman is sacred. It will be difficult to 
believe these stories in the face of the open exhibition 
of mutual affection displayed on so many occasions by 
the imperial couple. 

Life at the Court of the Habsburgs did not at first 
offer to the simple-minded Elizabeth the unalloyed 
happiness she had expected to find at the side of a 

The Empress Elizabeth 53 

husband whose love she sincerely reciprocated. I 
have already mentioned how she came to disagreements 
with her ladies-in-waiting and Court officials. She 
created quite a consternation amongst them when she 
flatly refused to partake of the luncheon consisting 
of various dainty dishes prepared in the imperial 
kitchen, and ordered instead some Frankfort sausages 
and a glass of lager beer, the fare to which she was 
accustomed. There were many subjects of contention 
between the imperial bride and the old-fashioned 
duennas of the Court. It often became necessary 
for the Emperor to interfere on behalf of his young 
spouse, and he permitted her to introduce new forms 
and to lighten the stern rigour of the existing regime. 
So it came to pass that soon a different tone prevailed 
in Court circles ; and in spite of the venerable mother 
of the young Emperor, who up to now had been the 
real mistress of the royal palace, and who opposed 
any relaxation, and in spite of all the powerful rule 
of the Jesuits, the Court of Vienna became gay and 

Through her influence over her husband the Empress 
not only caused reforms in their own home, but she 
also prevailed upon him to greatly alleviate the sad 
position of prisoners and soldiers who had merited 
punishment. Chains and corporal punishment were 
done away with, especially the brutal castigation of 

54 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

soldiers, called " Gassenlaufen," ^ against which she set 
her face, and the abolishment of which she demanded, 
and it was readily granted by her loving spouse as a 
wedding present. Then, too, the treatment of the 
poor in the hospitals was strictly investigated, and 
vast improvements made in that quarter, as a conse- 
quence of the interference of Her Majesty on behalf 
of the suffering poor. 

However much Court ceremonies and festivities may 
have been uncongenial to the Empress, she nevertheless 
played her part in them for over thirty years with admir- 
able dignity and grace. She moved freely amongst the 
people, drove in the Prater, the public park of Vienna, 
and showed herself continually at theatres, the opera, 
and open-air concerts. It was only the tragic death of 
her only son, in 1889, which shattered her health and 
crushed her lofty spirit, that caused her to withdraw 
from public life, forego all customary exercises, and 
retire into comparative seclusion, from which she 
emerged for the first time in 1896 for a few days, on 
the occasion of the visit paid to Vienna by the young 
Czar and Czarina of Russia. But even at the great 
banquet given in honour of the young Russian couple 

' The culprit had to walk slowly through a double row of his 
comrades, and each struck his bare back with a stout birch rod : 
frequently he went on till he fainted. It was a cruel practice, which 
was abolished shortly after Elizabeth had become Empress, 

The Empress Elizabeth 57 

she appeared in deep mourning, affording an espe- 
cially sad picture amidst the vivid colouring of her 

During the seven years following her marriage, in 
the course of which two daughters and a son were born, 
the conjugal happiness of the Empress Elizabeth would 
have been complete but for the unpopularity which she 
incurred among the German subjects, and especially the 
Viennese, through her dislike to State ceremonials and 
Court entertainments, and her inveterate love of field 
sports and the exercises of the manage. From early 
morning to her dejeuner she spent her time at the 
imperial riding school, exercising horse after horse, and 
in the afternoon she could be seen daily in the Park 
riding on her private roads, generally using three or 
four horses in succession. So devoted was she to 
horse exercise that it was reported she learned to ride 
without a saddle, kneeling on horseback, and even 
standing, as we sometimes see done in a circus, for 
which reason she was nicknamed by the Viennese 
bourgeoisie " The Circus Rider " ; and her infrequent 
public appearances, despite the charm of her extra- 
ordinary beauty and grace, were coldly greeted by the 
populace of the imperial city. This, combined with 
the behaviour of the nobility at the time of her 
marriage, brought about a feeling of dislike for Vienna, 
whose people she considered narrow-minded, and not 

5 8 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

unnaturally she was prompted to avoid the Austrian 
capital throughout nearly four decades of her august 
consort's reign, and to seek more congenial surround- 
ings in her Hungarian residence. 

Unfortunately in 1861 an incipient disease of the 
lungs compelled the young Empress to quit her country 
and sever herself for many months from her husband 
and children. She repaired to Madeira, where she 
remained for some months, and derived great benefit 
from its mild climate. 

In her habits she was always very simple and frugal, 
and it was no doubt on that account that even in her 
sixtieth year, and in spite of the many griefs which she 
had had to endure, she still looked much younger than 
she really was. Up to the end of her life she kept her 
graceful but almost too slender figure ; and her hair, 
wfiich was always one of her chief glories, was still most 
abundant, though streaked with silver threads ; her fine 
complexion was unimpa'red, and her wonderfully deep 
blue eyes were as expressive as of old. When at Ischl, 
for instance, she would go out sometimes at 5 a.m. 
Her walking costumes were very smart, and yet 
business-like ; she had a preference for short skirts in 
the style of a kilt reaching just above the ankles, and a 
short jacket over a waistcoat, which varied according to 
the seasons. As a rule she wore a soft felt hat with 
^ blackcpock's tail or a grouse's foot, fastening a bunch 

The Empress Elizabeth 59 

of her favourite Edelweiss as its only trimming ; and 
a good useful stick was always her companion. 

At no place, at home or abroad, did she entertain 
to any great extent. Now and then, however, a few 
guests would dine with her, when she always made 
herself most charming. Her dresses were ever in the 
best of taste. On one occasion, we read, she wore a 
white velvet dress made with a high Medici collar 
edged with white feathers, and a corsage cut square 
in front, while a deep edging of the feathers round 
the hem was the only trimming ; white suede gloves 
were on her arms, and her only ornament was, 
strange to say, a dagger, with the handle formed 
of very large diamonds, passed through her hair. 
Her dinners were simple, but excellent ; and the 
wines, of which there was a great profusion, were of 
the finest, although she herself only partook of a 
little claret. A great deal of formality was observed 
in the waiting, pages of different grades carefully 
drawing fine lines as to whom they served, those 
whose position permitted them to wait on the Empress 
of course ignoring all others. 

The Court of Austria is perhaps the most strict 
and severe as regards etiquette in Europe ; and how- 
ever much the Empress might have liked a quiet and 
retired life, and however much she might have 
attempted to bring about changes from the monotonv 

6o Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

and strictness of the old Spanish etiquette which pre- 
vailed, she found it impossible to do away with a great 
deal of form which was almost mediaeval in its severity. 
In 1882, when illness prevented Her Majesty from 
indulging in riding exercise, she became a great 
pedestrian, and her excursions were sometimes both 
long and dangerous ; but the Emperor, although by 
no means a good walker, was exceptionally attentive 
to his imperial spouse, and always did his best to 
keep up with the Empress in her long walks, and 
never failed to accompany her during her excursions 
when staying with her. 

Very remarkable was the fearlessness and intrepidity 
of Her Majesty. At the opening of the Trieste Exhi- 
bition in the beginning of the eighties, an Italian 
irredentist ^ threw a bomb at the festive procession, 
several persons being wounded. The Emperor and 
Empress and Crown Prince intended a fortnight later 
going there ; but as danger was feared, a general 
desire was expressed for the Empress to remain away. 
" If there is any danger of an attack," she replied to 
her husband, " I shall certainly go ; my place is then 
by your side." And she went to Trieste. 

According to a confession made some time after- 

' So were called the members of a party agitating for the severance 
of Trieste from Austria. They frequently employed violence as their 
means to an end. 

The Empress Elizabeth 63 

wards by the man Oberbank, it had been arranged to 
kill the imperial pair with a couple of bombs at 
Trieste. Oberbank was afterwards hanged with his 

To mention a predilection of the late Empress of 
Austria, it may be said that she was extremely fond of 
jewels, especially of emeralds and rubies, of which she 
had a marvellous collection. 

It was extraordinary how far her generosity reached, 
and it is well known that no official or servant, either 
high pr low, who had any hand in contributing to 
the cordiality of the welcome or the convenience of 
the Empress in any country, failed to receive a 
recognition, personally when possible, and by deputy 
when not. In this country it will be remembered that, 
on the occasion of her visit to Liverpool, each individual 
official there and elsewhere throughout the railway 
system had the agreeable surprise of receiving a few 
days later a present of jewelry, together with a message 
of praise and thanks for the way in which they 
had fulfilled their duties. Each of these souvenirs, 
one of which was shown to me, must have cost a 
considerable sum of money. 

In the autumn of 1868 the Emperor and Empress, 
animated by the kindest feelings towards the Poles, 
resolved to visit Galicia ; but while suitable prepara- 
tions were being made for their cordial reception 

64 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria / 

political disturbances arose, and Count Beust insisted 
upon their Majesties postponing their visit, as it would 
endanger the Constitution, and consequently the visit 
was never carried out. The Empress regretted this 
very much, as she counted amongst her best friends 
some of the old Polish nobility. 

How difficult it must have been at first for the 
Empress to move in a sphere so antagonistic to her own 
ideas can easily be imagined. Whitman, in his Realm 
of the HabsburgSy speaks thus of Austrian society : 
" Austrian society is very conservative ; even millionaires 
cannot enter it unless they have a pedigree." An 
American Minister thirty years ago expressed himself 
in these words on the subject : " If an Austrian should 
be a Shakespeare, Galileo, Nelson, and Raphael all 
in one, he could not be admitted into good society in 
Vienna unless he had the sixteen quarterings of nobility 
which birth alone could give him." Austrian noblemen 
never let ancestral homes to strangers, and they never 
break their pledged word of honour. Neither the 
Emperor nor any of his family is ever set upon or 
hunted down and mobbed in the streets of the capital ; 
they can walk alone and unmolested anywhere. 

Only one signal failure can we record in the crusade 
Her Majesty undertook against the various ancient 
customs which she considered entirely out of date. As 
a Roman Catholic and a thinking and logical woman 


The Empress Elizabeth 65 

she was strongly opposed to duelling, which is very 

prevalent, particularly in the army. On one occasion, 

when two young German noblemen of the Roman faith, 

who served in a Prussian cavalry regiment, and who had 

refused a challenge and expressed themselves as opposed 

on principle of religion to the practice, were obliged 

to quit the Army, they requested through their mother, 

who was a personal friend of Elizabeth, that she would 

prevail upon her husband to give them commissions 

in one of his hussar regiments. The Emperor, who 

never could resist an appeal from his consort, caused 

the Minister of War to make out commissions for 

the two young counts, but on the day on which 

they presented themselves at their new quarters the 

whole corps of officers belonging to the regiment 

to which the two were commissioned sent in their 

papers, not being willing to serve with men who 

had refused to comply with the unwritten code of 

honour observed in Austria. Naturally the War 

Minister could not spare gallant officers who had 

shown their prowess on the field of battle, and the 

commissions were withdrawn from the two opponents 

to duelling. 

It was said that Her Majesty felt her failure very 
strongly, but her tact was such that it would not allow 
her to go openly against public opinion. Nevertheless, 
she always considered duelling a grievous wrong, and 


66 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

often personally tried to interpose where her own 
acquaintances were concerned. 

When Elizabeth was able to entertain and partici- 
pate in Court functions, she was known as one of the 
most charming and afFable hostesses, trying her best 
to make every one feel at home, and herself dancing 
at and enjoying the balls and fetes. To give a typical 
picture of an Austrian Court ball, I may briefly 
describe one which took place only a year ago at the 
Hofburg in Vienna. 

The Emperor entered in Uhlan uniform, and was 
preceded by the Grand Chamberlain, Prince Rudolf 
Liechtenstein, walking backwards. The Emperor had 
on his arm the Duchess of Cumberland, magnificently 
dressed in white and yellow brocade, covered with 
silver filigree embroidery, and with bunches of violets 
scattered about the dress and train, which were edged 
with white marabout feathers. She wore on her head 
a coronet of leaves and roses, in diamonds. Her 
daughter, the Princess Marie Louise (who made her 
debut at the first State ball), was in pink tulle trimmed 
with garlands of roses, and wore some exquisite ropes 
of pink pearls as ornaments. 

The Archduchess Stephanie, who is considered one 
of the best-dressed women in Europe, had a lovely 
ball dress of dead white satin, covered with a trellis- 
work of silver and diamonds, and round the bodice 

- ' , .-7.S I 


. '>i\. ': 










.-._-?-:., ?l-l„-:1 

t * 


The Empress Elizabeth 69 

was an edging of diamonds on white velvet, and a 
loosely tied bunch of pink and red roses. In her hair 
she wore a flat diadem of diamonds, and round her 
throat a collar of immense diamonds and a necklace 
of pigeon*s-blood rubies. Her Imperial Highness was 
the most striking-looking woman in the room. 

The jewels of some of the wives of the great Hun- 
garian nobles were positively unsurpassable. Countess 
Esterhazy-Stockau wore a superb castellated crown of 
enormous diamonds in the mode of the Empire, and 
her neck and shoulders were literally a plastron of 
jewels ; Princess Montenuovo, the wife of the second 
Lord High Steward, wore wonderful emeralds ; and 
among the few English present was Lady Rumbold 
in black. The eflFect of the magnificent uniforms and 
marvellous jewels helped to make it an almost un- 
precedented sight. The commands for the ball were 
for half-past eight, supper was at eleven, and the whole 
aflFair was over by twelve o'clock. 

As might be expected, there is an enormous amount 
of pomp accompanying such balls as the one just 
described ; but perhaps there is even more splendour 
displayed in religious ceremonies ; and the Empress, 
before her great bereavement in 1889, was foremost 
in setting the example of attending to religious duties 
and functions. The grandest spectacle is offered by 
the yearly procession of Corpus Christi, which wends 

70 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

its way through some of the principal streets of 
Vienna. The Empress, with the Emperor, followed 
the Host, which is carried by the Cardinal Archbishop, 
in jewelled mitre and cope, richly embroidered : the 
Archbishop walks solemnly under a canopy of purple 
and gold, and is assisted by a throng of bishops and 
priests : round them walk representatives of the noblest 
families of the realm, high officials, knights of the 
various orders in glittering uniforms, those of St. John 
and Malta in their long white mantles adorned with 
a cardinal Maltese cross ; Hungarian magnates, Polish 
princes and counts, in their picturesque national 
costumes of satin, velvet, and furs, covered with 
glittering gems of great value ; the Hungarian gardes 
du corps with their leopard-skin mantles, squadrons of 
cavalry and battalions of infantry. 

The Empress on such occasions used to be surrounded 
by all the Archduchesses, and her devotions were 
indeed sincere. Another religious ceremony in which 
she participated was the washing of the feet of twelve 
poor old women on Good Friday. This seems to be 
a very ancient ceremony. At the Austrian Court 
twelve old men and twelve old women from the work- 
house are selected, and dressed in the garb of ancient 
pilgrims, brought to the royal residence, where, in the 
midst of the greatest pomp, and in the presence of 
Ministers and Generals, proud Privy Councillors and 

The Empress Elizabeth 71 

Chamberlains, officers and pages, accompanied by the 
bodyguards, the Emperor and Empress with their own 
hands washed the feet of the respective twelve paupers. 
This is done to show their humility, as did a Teacher 
of ethics nineteen hundred years ago in Jerusalem. 

As a mother Her Majesty the Empress was always 
in her element. The birth of a son and two daughters 
during the first kw years of their married life had made 
the imperial pair the happiest in Europe, so far as their 
domestic affairs were concerned. During many years 
the Empress spent a large amount of her time either 
in the nursery of her beloved children or in places 
where poverty and misery could be alleviated. Her 
most joyful days were those which she spent with her 
children in solitude at some mountain castle or in 
some forest villa. She was generally present during 
the lesson time, and when unable to be so she never 
missed hearing a full report of the results of their 
day's teaching. She was particular, too, that the best 
understanding should exist between teacher and pupil, 
and although she was most strict in her demands of 
obedience she was never over-severe, and certainly 
never unjust ; she loved to see her children attach 
themselves with grateful affection to those who were 
placed over them, and this feeling was nurtured to 
such an extent that up to the last the greatest friend- 
ship existed between teacher and pupils. 

72 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

As we have already remarked, besides her idolised 
only son, the late Empress had two daughters. The 
elder, the Arch- 
duchess Gisela, 
married, when she 

was seventeen. 

Prince Leopold of 
Bavaria, and has 
two sons and two 
daughters ; she com- 
memorated this year 
(1898) her silver 
wedding. The 
younger of Her 
Majesty's daughters, 
the Archduchess 
Marie Valerie, who 
was born, to the 
joy of the Hungarian 
people, at Godolo, on their soil, and educated by a 
Hungarian, Bishop Ronay, was married eight years 
ago to the Archduke Francis Salvator of Austria ; she 
has one daughter and four sons. 

The Empress of Austria, after her son's death, 
never saw much of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, 
who replaced him as heir to the throne, and who is at 
present unmarried. It was not from dislike to the 

The Empress Elizabeth 


young man, who is handsome, tall, fair, and attractive, 
although unfortunately he possesses very indifferent 
health, but from a bereaved mother's very natural dis- 
taste to seeing any one in her son's place. When the 
young Archduke was threatened with consumption 
and his life was almost despaired of, the Empress 
visited him, and was much touched by his condition. 

During the early 
years of the 
Empress's married 
hfe occurred the 
disasters which de- 
prived Austria of 
her most treasured 
f>ossessions ; they did 
not, however, after 
the first moment, 
disturb the conjugal 
felicity of the Em- 
peror and Empress, 
but no doubt it was 
these disasters which 
caused the Empress 
to abhor politics. 
Her husband was 
her hero, a knight 
of the days of the 

74 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Crusades, and gladly would she have seen him lead his 
armies to battle in person ; she was persuaded that 
then the great reverses which had very frequently 
attended the Austrian arms could not have taken 
place. She was proud, as well she might be, of her 
young consort's splendid courage and his proficiency 
in all martial exercises, of his power of attaching men 
to his person, and of his great strategic ability ; and 
when the constitutional era arrived she was wounded 
deeply to feel that he must sink his brilliant per- 
sonality, and merely play the part of an ordinary 
constitutional sovereign — to be an autocrat had been 
her ideal. Her chagrin and grief found a willing echo 
in the Emperor's own heart, and there was danger for 
a time that their private life would be shadowed by 
these public disasters. 

Elizabeth, who, with all her eccentricity and singu- 
larity, was possessed of very great common sense, had 
foreseen this contingency and prepared for it. She 
had resolved that her role should be to make her 
husband, from the moment he entered her presence, 
forget the cares and trials of his exalted position, and 
occupy his mind with a fresh series of ideas, that would 
not only afford him relaxation, but send him back 
reinvigorated to his labours, for the advantage of all 
concerned ; and it was in consequence of his wife's love 
and wise actions that the Emperor has been able to 


The Empress Elizabeth 75 

preserve the vigour and energy of youth, although for 
half a century he has been one of the most hard-working 
men in Europe. 

In 1879 the Empress celebrated her silver wedding. 
Fetes were given in Vienna and Buda-Pesth, Her Majesty 
staying part of the week at the former and part at the 
latter place. The historical pageant, arranged by the 
great painter Hans Makart, has become renowned for 
its magnificence and picturesqueness. The principal 
event took place on Thursday, the 24th of April, in 
the new votive Church of St. Saviour, the consecration 
of which was also performed. This, perhaps the 
most beautiful modern Gothic structure in Europe, 
was built by public subscription in memory of the 
escape of the Emperor from death by the assassin's 
knife, and was opened for public services on that day. 
The open-air festivities were marred by the weather, 
for the day was very wet, and the grand allegorical 
procession had to be postponed. The then Chancellor 
and Foreign Minister, Count Andrassy, gave a most 
brilliant soiree at the Foreign Office. The procession 
of carriages conveying the guests took two hours to 
pass : the Emperor himself arrived at half-past ten, 
and stopped an hour. 

After the close of the festivities, in which the Empress 
took the greatest interest, the imperial couple, accom- 
panied by the Archduchess Gisela and Prince Ludwig 

76 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

of Bavaria, the Empress's brother, arrived at Buda-Pesth, 
and spent a week there during the races. It had been 
intimated that no official reception was desired — indeed, 
the day and hour of arrival only became known at 
noon ; yet, moved by one impulse, the populace went 
out to welcome their King and Queen with a warmth 
and enthusiasm such as even here have rarely been 

The last rejoicing in which Her Majesty displayed any 
great interest was on the occasion of the marriage of the 
Crown Prince Rudolf. The way in which the royal 
betrothal was brought about at Brussels is so very out 
of the ordinary, and shows so well the liberal teaching 
of the Prince's mother, that I will give it in detail. 

The Archduke Rudolf proposed in person to Princess 
Stephanie of Belgium at an evening party given in 
his honour at the Chateau de Laeken. Among the 
amusements provided for their Majesties' guests was 
a concert in the magnificent conservatory attached to 
the palace. Matters had been so arranged, that, when 
the company were conducted from the salon to the 
winter garden, the Archduke and the Princess were 
left together tete-a-tete for a few minutes. As soon 
as they were alone the Crown Prince approached Her 
Royal Highness with a low and formal obeisance, 
saying, " Madam, will you take me for a husband } " 
To which plain question the Princess simply replied, 

The Empress Elizabeth 77 

curtseying deeply, " Yes, Your Imperial Highness." 
** Your Royal Highness's answer makes me supremely 
happy," observed the Archduke. '*And I," rejoined 
Princess Stephanie, "promise that I will do my duty 
towards you under all circumstances." 

No more was said ; but the youthful pair, arm in 
arm, joined the royal circle in the winter garden ; and 
the Archduke, leading his fair companion up to her 
father, addressed King Leopold as follows: "Sire, I 
have, with Your Majesty's permission, begged Princess 
Stephanie to bestow her hand upon me. It is my 
happy privilege to inform you that my petition has 
been granted." '* I rejoice, Monseigneur," replied the 
King, " to greet you as my son-in-law." The Princess 
embraced her mother, and immediately afterwards the 
betrothal was announced to the assembled public. 

The Empress had already in former years suffered 
from painful ischialgia, which made her sojourn in the 
South, and especially on the lake side, imperative. 
Her diet was most frugal, and consisted principally 
of milk and fruit ; but unfortunately under this treat- 
ment she became anaemic, and was therefore obliged, 
upon the advice of the doctors, to change her regimen 
for a stronger one. 

During the last month of her life the state of 
Her Majesty's health became greatly improved ; she 
no longer suffered from insomnia, had more appetite. 

78 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

and became visibly stronger. Before going to Switzer- 
land she spent some months at Nauheim in the 
Duchy of Hesse, where she had been examined by 
means of the Rontgen rays, and Dr. Schott, her 
physician, expressed a confident expectation that Her 
Majesty's stay would prove beneficial. This antici- 
pation was realised, and the improvement made 
was so marked that she was about to return to 
Vienna to participate in the fetes which were to 
take place in connection with her husband's Jubilee. 
The Grand Duke of Hesse, who, with the Grand 
Duchess, had visited Her Majesty more than once at 
her villa at Nauheim, pleased with the success of her 
medical attendant. Dr. Schott, conferred upon him the 
title of Professor. Elizabeth had here also received 
a visit from the Empress Frederick and the German 
Emperor and his spouse. 

I need hardly say that the feelings which pre- 
vailed in Vienna during the first years of the married 
life of the Empress underwent a thorough change, 
and from the year i860 she became the beloved 
and popular mistress of the realm. Deep was the 
sympathy shown to her in the terrible trials which 
she underwent during her life. A mayor of Vienna, 
old Dr. Zelinka, once said to the citizens, **No 
other lady is like our Empress," and he fully ex- 
pressed the feeling of the Viennese ; she was unique. 

The Empress Elizabeth Si 

the noblest, the sweetest, and the kindest woman in 
the Empire. 

I cannot end the present chapter in a more appro- 
priate manner than by giving a short description of 
some of the palaces in which the Empress principally 
dwelt when in Austria, and where she entertained or 
assisted her husband in State functions. In a future 
chapter I shall speak of those palaces which she had 
built herself, and which were her personal property, 
and where, especially since 1889, ^^^ spent the greater 
part of her life. 

In Vienna she occupied that wing of the imperial resi- 
dence (the Hofburg, a conglomeration of buildings of 
enormous extent and varied styles) which is called the 
Bcllaria, and which is the most modern part ; her 
rooms were distinguished by their exquisite tastefulness, 
and entire absence of all ostentation. For many years 
she selected Schonbrunn, the suburban residence of the 
Emperor, for her headquarters. This castle, with its 
very fine gardens and park, its charming summer 
pavilion, its lakes and its fountains, is an extremely 
comfortable house, in spite of its enormous dimensions ; 
it is deservedly called the Austrian Versailles ; and an 
idea of its size will be formed when I mention that 
it contains one thousand four hundred and forty-one 
rooms and one hundred and thirty-nine kitchens. 

From 1 805 to 1 809 this beautiful and ancient seat 


82 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

of the Habsburgs was inhabited temporarily by 
Napoleon I. ; and his son, the Duke of Reichstadt, 
King of Rome, died there in 1832. The gardens are 
adorned with marble statues by Bayer, representing 
gods and goddesses of the Greek mythology ; and one 
of the most exquisite works of art is the fountain of 
Neptune — a fine group of marble statuary by Bayer, 
Von Hasenauer, and Zacherl ; they are most pictur- 
esquely posed upon granite rock, and form the base 
of the fountain, two large and many small water jets 
being thrown up to various heights. 

Not far from Vienna there is another extremely 
picturesque castle, at present occupied by the Crown 
Prince's widow, named Laxenburg, which was in 
former years often the home of the murdered Empress, 
and where the three elder children were born. The 
park is very extensive and beautiful, containing some 
charming ornamental waters, and an old ivy-covered 
feudal castle, the Franzensburg. 

The lovely marine residence of the late Emperor of 
Mexico has also frequently sheltered the Empress 
Elizabeth. It is one of the finest palaces belonging 
to the Habsburgs, and is situated on the Adriatic, near 
Trieste. The gardens, with their semi-tropical vegeta- 
tion, defy description, the ever blue sky and sea lending 
a special charm to this lovely spot. 

Another of the favourite residences was the imperial 

The Empress Elizabeth 85 

villa at Ischl, in the province of Salzburg. It lies in a 
valley encompassed by high mountains, and is surrounded 
by most picturesque scenery. The imperial couple 
were accustomed to spend some months annually at 
that well-favoured spot, and it may be that their 
love for it was partly due to the fact that it was 
here that the Emperor and Empress met for the first 






IT was soon after her marriage that Elizabeth accom- 
panied the Emperor to Hungary. The revolution 
of 1848 and 1849, which had been crushed with 
such terrible severity, and the most disastrous con- 
sequences to the Hungarian people, had fostered a 
feeling akin to hatred against the young Emperor- 
King. It was therefore the more remarkable that 
Her Majesty succeeded so rapidly in winning the 
hearts of the Magyars. " Veni^ vidi^ vici " — this was 
the experience of the monarch's beautiful bride. 

The Hungarians are essentially chivalrous and senti- 
mental ; their high sense of nobility, their veneration 
for womanhood, and their extraordinary love of beauty 
caused them to forget past grievances and wrongs, 
and to ofFer their hearts and souls to the lovely, 
afFable, and sympathetic woman, who, at least by name, 
was their Queen, and who had come to them with such 
confidence and love. 

Who has not heard of the historical scene at the 


90 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

palace at Buda-Pesth more than a hundred years ago, 
when their then Queen, the great Empress Marie 
Theresa, threw herself upon their honour and mercy, 
when hard pressed by Prussia and other enemies, 
and abandoned by her allies ? With the baby King, 
Joseph II., in her arms, she made her hysterical appeal 
to the barbaric but chivalrous magnates of Trans- 
Leithania. " Moriamur pro regina nostra ! " was the 
cry that resounded through the palace. How willingly 
the Magyars of to-day would have repeated these 
memorable words ! 

There is not the slightest doubt that it was due in 
a very great measure to the love the Hungarian people 
bore for Elizabeth that Beust succeeded in 1867 in 
cementing the union between the two powerful factions 
of the Empire, and the Hungarians always preserved 
a grateful remembrance, bordering on ecstasy, of the 
part the Empress played at the time of the completion 
of the union with Home Rule (Ausgleich). Elizabeth 
showed throughout her lite a great predilection for the 
Hungarian people — no doubt on account, in some 
degree, of their characteristic seriousness and love for 
nature : even their songs and music are permeated by 
a mystic melancholy which brought them into close 
touch with Her Majesty's own feelings. 

At the Coronation, which took place in Buda-Pesth 
in 1867, the enthqsiasni for their Queen broke out 

The Queen of Hungary 9^ 

in the most extraordinary ovations : all hearts seemed 
to go out towards her. She understood them so 
well ; and having early in her married life mastered 
their language, one of the most difficult in Europe, 
she was able to converse freely with them in their 
own tongue. 

When the Emperor had given his consent, in 
accordance with the desire of the Magyars, to be 
crowned with the ancient crown of St. Stephen, a 
deputation of the Hungarian nation appeared also 
before the Empress in Vienna, begging her that she 
too would allow herself to be crowned as the 
Hungarian Queen. Her answer, which I give in 
full, was characteristic of her, and gave the greatest 
satisfaction to the members of the deputation : — 

'* With the greatest happiness I fulfil the wish or 
the nation which you have laid before me, and which 
coincides entirely with my own most warm desire, 
and I bless the Providence that has preserved my life 
for this great moment. Please convey to your people 
my most sincere thanks and my most heartfelt 

The part Her Majesty played during the various 
ceremonies and festivities at the royal palace in 
Buda-Pesth was such that I feel this work would not 
be complete without at least giving a full description 
of the Coronation. The pomp and enthusiasm it is 

94 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

difficult to describe ; but this much can be said — the 
centre of all this ecstasy was the youthful Princess, 
endowed with radiant beauty, whose happy countenance 
and sweet smiles seemed to throw a sunny light upon 
all those who had the privilege of gazing upon her. 

I cannot do better than give the report of the 
Coronation as it appeared in the Illustrated London 
News of June 1867 : — 

*' Francis Joseph I., Emperor of Austria and King 
of Hungary, succeeded to the sovereignty both of the 
Empire and of the Kingdom nearly twenty years ago ; 
but the Magyars of Hungary, who struggled in 1849 
to free their country from its connection with Austria, 
when they were crushed by the intervention of Russia, 
have but lately consented to acknowledge him as 
their King upon a concession of due guarantees for 
their constitutional liberties. The ceremonies of his 
Coronation, which took place on the 8 th inst. [June 
1867] at Buda and Pesth, the twin cities of the Danube 
forming the capital of Hungary, were extremely 

" The Emperor and Empress, with their relatives 
the Archdukes, were lodged in the Castle of Buda, 
on the height above the suspension bridge connecting 
Buda and Pesth. Here the Emperor, or rather King, 
as he is called in Hungary, had received deputations 
from the House of Magnates and the House of 

The Queen of Hungary 95 

Deputies, with their addresses of loyalty, two days 
before. At seven in the morning a procession of 
courtiers, officers of State, noblemen, magnates, and 
knights, with Count Andrassy, the Prime Minister, 
escorted His Majesty on horseback, the Empress in 
a carriage, and .the Archdukes, from the royal palace 
to the Parish Church of Buda, where they were met 
by the Primate of Hungary, the Archbishop of Gran, 
with other prelates and clergy. 

" Having knelt to receive the crucifix and holy 
water, their Majesties were led into the chapel, the 
trumpets and kettledrums sounding. Here the Crown 
jewels were placed in the hands of the barons of the 
realm, and in the procession which then moved towards 
the high altar the crown of St. Stephen was borne by 
Count Andrassy, as representative of the Palatine. 
The Ban of Croatia, Baron Sokcevic, carried the 
globe ; and the Judex Curiae, M. Majlath, the sceptre ; 
the Tavernicus, Baron Sennyey, the pyx ; the Royal 
Hungarian Cupbearer, the sword of State ; and the 
Royal Hungarian Lord High Chancellor, the cross. 

** The Crown jewels were placed on the high altar, and 
the Archbishop of Kalocsa commenced the service with 
the formula of the Church according to the Pontificale 
Romanum. After several responses in Latin, the 
Emperor was led to the altar, and, kneeling, took the 
Coronation Oath. His Majesty then descended to 

9^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

the lowest step before the altar, and lay prostrate at full 
length on his face during the reading of the Litany, at 
the conclusion of which His Majesty was conducted 
behind the altar, where he laid aside his pelisse, kalpak, 
and sabre, and prepared for the unction. 

'' Next His Majesty was anointed with holy oil by 
the Primate. This part of the ceremony excited much 
interest. As the Primate poured the oil on His 
Majesty's right arm and between the shoulders he 
prayed reverently ; and when the ceremony was over, 
the King, rising, went behind the altar (where the 
superfluous unction was dried), and reappeared after a 
time, and walked to the foot of the throne, where he 
knelt down and seemed to pray. While he was thus 
kneeling, the Lord High Chamberlain and Marshal 
of the Court and officiating prelates approached with 
the royal mantle of St. Stephen, and placed it solemnly 
over his shoulders. This is clearly proved to have 
been a casula, the work of Gisela, Queen of St. 
Stephen, made in a.d. 1031, and is regarded with 
the utmost veneration by all Hungarians. It was a 
gift to the Church originally, and has undergone some 
mutilation. When it is out of repair, it must be 
mended by no other hands than those of the Queen 

"The High Mass now began, to the blare of trumpets 
and the roll of kettledrums. The King, surrounded by 


The Queen of Hungary 


his officers of high state, was led to the altar, where he 

knelt and bowed his head to the Primate, who placed 

the naked sword of St. Stephen in his hand with the 

words of the formula. The Primate then received 

back the sword from 

the Emperor, put it 

into the sheath, and 

fastened the belt 

round his loins. The 

King now stood erect, 

and, turning his face 

to the people, drew 

the ancient blade, 

and with vigorous 
hand made the steel 
flash in the light, as 
he cut first in front, 
then to the right, 
and then to the left, 
according to tradi- 
tion, and returned the sword to its sheath, while the 
artillery thundered out a salvo from outside the church. 
" After brandishing the sword of St. Stephen, the 
King once more knelt on the highest step of the 
altar ; and there the Archbishop of Gran, as Prince 
Primate, and Count Andrassy, representing the Pala- 
tine, put the crown of St. Stephen on j his head. The 


98 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

Primate, with his hands on the crown, gave the 
blessing, and presented His Majesty first with the 
sceptre in his right and the globe in his left hand. 
Having done this, the Primate removed the sword 
of St. Stephen from the King's side, and returned it 
to the Royal Hungarian Cupbearer ; and when that 
was done the second salvo was fired. The King, 
surrounded by eleven magnates, was now solemnly con- 
ducted to the throne, and took his place on it with 
much solemnity. The Primate, standing on his right, 
pronounced the words, ' St a et retina a modo locum 
quam hue usque paterna successione tenuisti hareditani 
jure tibi a Deo delegatum per auctoritatem omnipotentis 
Dei' Count Andrassy made a sign, and at once the 
whole assembly burst into an * Eljen,' which was 
repeated three times with thrilling effect. The cannon 
thundered from the Blocksberg ; the bells of Buda and 
Pcsth burst into chimes. 

" The King was crowned. As crowned he presented 
his consort to the Primate, and demanded that she 
might be crowned ; and another service commenced, 
the crown and insignia being laid on the altar. The 
service for the Queen was similar to that of the King ; 
a crown was put on her head, but the royal crown was 
only held on her right shoulder for a time, after which 
it was replaced on the head of the King. At one 
time the King and Queen lay prostrate on their faces. 

The Queen of Hungary 99 

as His Majesty had done. After the ceremonies were 
completed, the King and Queen went in procession 
through the church gates to the garrison church, where 
all the royal insignia, except the crown, were laid 
aside, while the King made a number of knights, 
dubbing them with the sword of St. Stephen. 

" The procession, on marching from the church to go 
from Buda across the river to Pesth, was formed very 
much as it started ; but it was swollen by the banderia 
of the counties, by the bishops and prelates and mitred 
abbots, who formed a very fine-looking body of 
cavalry; and by the bearers of insignia, who took 
their places on splendid horses. The magnates and 
noblemen were also mounted, but attended by their 
footmen and hussars a pied in the most costly and 
curious liveries. 

" After a time a break was made in the procession 
by the appearance of some Court footman, and a 
singular horseman in an old faded greenish mantle, 
with a helmet-shaped cap of metal on his head. 
This was the King whom they had crowned. He 
rode a tall and powerful cream-coloured charger, 
which was restive enough to show his rider's powers 
to great advantage, and as he passed enthusiastic 
cheers greeted the monarch from the crowds of his 
people, rolling like a flood as he went. The pro- 
cession wound round by the quays and streets till 

loo Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

His Majesty came to the square in front of the Parish 
Church of Buda ; here a tribune was erected, three 
feet high, covered with cloth of gold, at the foot of 
the monumental column in honour of the Virgin 
Mary. This was the tribune on which the King 
took his stand ; and there in the presence of the people, 
raising three fingers of the right hand to heaven and 
holding aloft a crucifix in his left, with his face to 
the east, he took the oath amidst three tremendous 
* Eljens,' and salvos and volleys of musketry. 

** The procession then returned from the church to 
the Franz Josef Platz, where an artificial mound had 
been raised for the last scene of the Coronation 
Ceremony. At half-past eleven the King of Hungary 
rode up to the summit of the hill alone. His appear- 
ance was hailed with tremendous cheers. He raised 
the sword and cut towards the east ; then he turned 
towards the west, and cut in that direction again ; he 
wheeled his horse towards the south, and cut again ; 
and the sword cross was completed when he made 
his sword gleam towards the north. This per- 
formance made a very eflfective scene. 

" The King then rode down, and the mob rushed 
in, and in an instant the square was filled with people 
shouting ' Eljen ' till the welkin rang. 

" Baron, afterwards Count Beust, the Prime Minister 
of Austria, came in for a share of the applause. 

The Queen of Hung;ary 

" On the return 
to the palace there 
was a State banquet, 
to allow the Giurt 
functionaries to per- 
form their duties, 
while the magnates 
waited at table. The 
people were revel- 
ling in the meadow 
close at hand, where 
six hogsheads of wine 
and three whole 
oxen roasted were 
provided for all 

What a noble 
deed of the royal 

couple to hand over the Coronation gift of 100,000 
ducats for the foundation of a fund for the assistance 
of widows and orphans of the very soldiers who in 
1849 had fought for their liberty against the Emperor 
Francis Joseph ! What a complete reconciliation 
when we see the foremost person at the Coronation to 
be Count Julius Andrassy, who had been condemned 
to death as a traitor in 1849, and had only escaped 
with his life by precipitate flight from his country ! 

102 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

It was on the occasion of the Coronation that the 
Hungarian nation presented their Queen with the 
Castle of Godolo, situated in charming scenery not 
far from the capital. It has been frequently maintained 
by those who are in a position to know best that 
Elizabeth spent her happiest days at Godolo : here 
all pomp and show was dispensed with ; here she kept 
her hunting stud and kennels ; here she was entirely 
her own mistress, unrestrained by Court ceremony, 
surrounded by her favourite ladies-in-waiting, equerries, 
and servants ; and here she indulged in the life she 
loved best. The Magyars simply adored and wor- 
shipped her. It is certain that she fully returned their 
affection with a heartiness the sincerity of which was 
never doubted in the Kingdom of the Five Rivers. 
She shared their field sports, to which she imparted 
a prestige and an impulse of unprecedented force ; her 
knowledge of their national history and literature was 
complete ; and she won the love of all, high and low, 
and the admiration and appreciation of such renowned 
scientists as Ferencz Pulsky and Vambery. 

She counted amongst her most intimate friends many 
Hungarians, of whom I will only mention Count 
Julius Andrassy, Abbe Liszt, Count Maylath, and 
Tiska. The great novelist Moritz Jokai called her 
his " ideal of a noble woman." 

Deak, the greatest of Hungarian patriots of the 


The Queen of Hungary 105 

century, pronounced her " the noblest Hungarian of 
them all " ; and, having refused titles and money as 
the reward of his services to his country, accepted, 
instead of honours and wealth, a simple pair of 
slippers, worked for him by the loving hands of the 
Queen of Hungary. Before he died she visited him 
on his sick-bed at the hotel " Queen of England," 
and after his death she watched and prayed by 
his coffin, and manifested her sincere grief by the 
tears she shed as she knelt at the foot of his justly 
venerated bier. 

On this occasion she showed her wonted tact, 
when, being informed that the recovery of Hungary's 
Hampden had become very doubtful, she sent one 
of her equerries to his hotel to ask if she might be 
allowed to come and visit him ; and when he had 
closed his eyes for the everlasting rest, and as the 
body lay in the hall of the Royal Academy, which 
was transformed into a chapel of mourning, a simple 
Court carriage arrived at the door, and the Empress, 
dressed in deep mourning, entered. She held in 
her hand a wreath of laurels, with beautiful camellias 
and white satin ribbons, inscribed with the words : 
** Erzsebet Kiralyne Deak Ferencznek " (" Queen Eliza- 
beth to Frantz Deak "). A few minutes she stood 
in contemplation before the coffin, tears rolling down 
her cheeks ; then she placed the wreath upon the bier, 


Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

and knelt down and prayed. This scene has been 
immortalised by two of Hungary's greatest painters — 
Munkacsy and Michael Ziczy. 

The only time during the Empress's life that she 
evinced any interest in politics was when she assisted 


in the reconciliation of the Austrian and Hungarian 

It was the absence of Her Majesty — who, over- 
whelmed by so many disasters, could not be prevailed 
upon to participate in the festivities of the one- 
thousanth year of Hungarian independence (celebrated 
in 1 896) — which threw a shadow over the large 

The Queen of Hungary 107 

assembly of Hungarian patriots. In spite of the 
enthusiasm and the great pomp which were displayed 
at the various ceremonies of the time, the absence 
of the Queen who was so much loved prevented the 
occasion from being the success which it would other- 
wise have been. 

In what esteem, ay, reverence, the Hungarians held 
their Queen was well expressed by the passing of a 
Bill in the Houses of Parliament, soon after she had 
lost her life, for perpetuating her name by inserting a 
record of her life in the archives of the nation and 
erecting a monument to her memory in the Hungarian 
capital by voluntary subscriptions. 








THE influence which the Empress brought to 
bear upon the vexed question of woman's 
rights is of great importance, even if we accept the 
opinions of some who maintain that she was not 
in favour of inducing women to take too large an 
interest in politics. But she has doubtless con- 
tributed much to the accomplishment of the un- 
deniable fact that womankind has made remarkable 
progress in the realm during the long reign of her 
husband, who, as is well known, ever consulted her 
when questions arose or needed decision in which the 
fate of women was concerned. The changes in the 
position of women which took place during the forty- 
four years in which the Empress shared the throne of 
Francis Joseph are enormous, especially in the higher 
circles and the middle classes. 

It was ever one of Her Majesty's endeavours to 


112 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

alleviate also the position of the working women, 
which unfortunately is still such as to need urgent 
reform. It was upon her initiative that an inquiry was 
recently made into the conditions under which working 
women live in Austria, and especially in Vienna. The 
disclosures resulting therefrom caused Her Majesty 
the deepest grief, and in a letter written to a noble- 
man who might well be called the Austrian Shaftesbury 
she begged him to do all in his power to see that a 
change was speedily made, assuring him at the same 
time of her most hearty co-operation. 

The inquiry was conducted during the spring of 
1896 by the Society of Ethical Culture. The state 
of affairs brought to light was most lamentable ; and 
the Empress, shortly before her death, made the 
strongest representations to the Home Secretary, in 
order to induce him to see that the terrible misery 
existing among the lowest class of women and girls 
should be changed. " My heart bleeds," she wrote, 
"when I think of the misery of those poor women 
and girls, who work like slaves of ancient times, 
without even being able to earn enough to feed 
themselves properly. The vessel entrusted by God 
with the propagation and continuation of mankind 
should at least be above want — the gratitude of us 
all demands so much." 

We give a few items from the report referred to, 

The Empress as a Woman 1 13 

in order to show how justified the Empress was in 
expressing her indignation in the strongest words : — 

*' In box-making the apprentices are compelled to 
work during many months at wages of one florin 

114 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

(is. id.) a week. . . . The confectioner's trade shows 
a great mortality from lung disease, caused by the 
sugar dust, which is also very injurious to the eyes ; 
the women must often work at a temperature of 
148° Fahrenheit. The average age attained by the 
work-people is thirty-two years. In the flower and 
feather industries hundreds of young girls are kept 
in a kind of domestic slavery, and are forced to work 
sixteen, eighteen, even twenty hours a day for their 
board, lodging, and a few pence per week. They 
are miserably fed and packed two or three in one 
bed, a single room often containing three or four 
such beds. 

" Apprentices usually work three years without 
any payment. At carnival times the girls sometimes 
work the whole night ; and during several months 
the time allowed them for sleep is very short. A 
similar system is found in the glove and bandage 
trades ; the workers — mostly young girls hired from 
the country districts — are exhausted by overwork, 
ill lodged, ill fed, and still worse paid. In the em- 
broidery trade there is intense competition, partly 
caused by the home work of women of the lower 
middle class. Gold and silk embroidery — very trying 
to the eyes, especially at night — is largely done by 
quite young girls, kept as apprentices many years, 
and paid about two florins a week ; a very highly 

The Empress as a Woman 115 

skilled work-woman earns about fifty to sixty kreutzers 
(11^. to IS.) a day. Liver and lung diseases are very 
common in this industry. 

" The hardest labour performed by women is in 
brick-making and house-building ; in the latter they 
are obliged to draw carts containing great loads of 
mortar, to carry heavy mortar buckets up the scaflfblds, 
and to endure cold and heat during a working day 
of sixteen or seventeen hours, labouring away, true 
martyrs, up to a motherhood that brings them no 
joy and allows them no rest. . . . Besides' the trades 
mentioned, the condition of milliners, washerwomen, 
shop-girls, and so forth has been investigated ; but 
the examples given will be sufficient to show the 
want and misery endured by female workers in 
Austria. ... A great number of the women die 
prematurely, and but a small percentage are able to 
bear and rear healthy children." 

It is to be hoped that for the sake of the sacred 
memory of the Empress Elizabeth, whose sympathy 
was so warmly engaged in this matter, . steps will be 
taken without delay to alleviate the fate of these poor 
innocent creatures. Anyhow, the first step has been 
taken, for the classes knew that they had a strong 
protectress in the wife of their sovereign, and her 
teaching has caused in women an awakening to their 
true calling, and through this the incipient emancipatfen 

ii6 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

from their former thraldom. I am able to pay a 
reverential tribute to the exalted lady for the noble 
work she has done in this regard, by setting an example 
which has exerted the greatest influence throughout 
the land. It was that most beneficent lady, the youth- 
ful Empress Elizabeth, who, shortly after she had taken 
her place as mistress of the feudal Court in Vienna, 
broke the fetters which old custom and usage had 
placed on the gentle sex, the highest and the lowest, 
and by her example gave an impetus to the agita- 
tion which produced the comparatively healthy state 
of aflfairs which now exists, at all events in the upper 
and middle classes. 

Without following even partly the movement and 
its development, I intend to give some instances of 
what must have been the outcome of this long and 
beneficent work, and we cannot but rejoice, not only 
at the bright examples of the women and their Empress 
in Austria, but also to find that they were fully appre- 
ciated by all classes of the Empire. Their influence 
upon the social state, and not infrequently even upon 
politics, has been incalculable, for they have taken the 
lead in many social movements, and by their perse- 
verance, patience, and tact have carried to a successful 
issue many important plans. 

The beginning of the festivities in connection 
with the Jubilee, which received such a terrible check, 

The Empress as a Woman 

took place towards 
the end of June 
at Vienna. A 
great procession 
and pageant of 
marksmen and 
huntsmen, consist- 
ing of more than 
twenty thousand 
men from all parts 
of the Empire, with 
contingents from 
Bavaria and other 
German states, 
moved through the 
principal streets of 
the capital ; and one 
could not help 
being strongly impressed by a particular feature in 
the procession — namely, the prominent and honoured 
position given to womankind in a pageant which 
fifty years ago would certainly have been considered 
essentially a masculine one. There marched among 
the marksmen a goodly troop of markswomen, 
who had won many victories in former shooting 
matches, and who were enthusiastically cheered by 
the enormous crowds of sightseers as they passed 

ii8 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

in their neat uniforms, carrying their rifles on 
their shoulders. Here could be clearly traced the 
influence of the Empress-Queen, who had herself 
devoted much time to athletic exercises and to 
sports of all kinds that assisted physical develop- 
ment ; for she was throughout her life a warm 
advocate of outdoor pastimes and of healthful 

Among the various waggons which adorned the 
marksmen's procession, and upon which groups were 
arranged, one of the finest was the one representing 
*^ Austria." On a throne tastefully draped with silks 
and satins in the Austrian colours, a sword of state 
in her right hand, and the left resting on a shield 
of gold emblazoned with the arms of the Empire, 
sat a youthful dame of great beauty and dignity. 
A second waggon carried a bust of the venerable 
Emperor, surrounded by " Vindobona " (emblematic 
of Vienna), the Muse of History, the Genius of Peace, 
and the Goddess of War, all represented by Viennese 
ladies, guarded by officers of the Viennese Volunteers 
in the uniform of 1809 to 1866. But especially 
picturesque was the cortege of this festal waggon, 
which consisted of about sixty ladies in the costume 
of Old Vienna, accompanied in some cases by their 
swains. The fact that this part of the procession 
was the most popular, wa$ cheered more than any 

The Empress as a Woman 


other, is a proof 
that the women of 
the Empire and 
their work are 
duly appreciated. 

That woman's 
political and social 
position has so 
much altered, and 
that there are to- 
day the highest 
schools of learning 
equally open to 
both sexes, is no 
doubt due to the 
fact that their 
capabilities have 
become so evident 
that any further 
attempt to suppress them must have proved abortive, 
and that they not only engage the sympathy of 
all thinking men, but also the esteem and admiration 
of the great majority who have hitherto blindly 
denied even the intellectual equality of women with 

But I must not overlook the teaching of the highest 
lady in the land, and it is not too much to say that the 

I20 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

late Empress introduced into Austria a perfectly new 
regime. She was brought up by her parents in simplicity, 
but with liberal ideas ; she was allowed to mix freely with 
the masses, and in this wise to become acquainted with 
all conditions of men and women ; and the lessons of 
her girlhood's days were not forgotten when she was 
called upon to share the throne of a powerful potentate. 
She was for her time certainly an " advanced " woman. 
Her influence upon the Viennese Court was quite 
extraordinary, and soon the female element became 
as much a part of the realm to be taken into considera- 
tion as the male one. The Emperor, whose love for 
her was so true and sincere, was happy to assist her 
in this work ; but whether she converted him to her 
ideas, or whether he had emancipated himself on his 
own initiative from the old narrow way of the imperial 
family, it would be difficult to state. 

The fact remains that in honouring people the 
Emperor made no difference on account of sex, and 
there was at least one high order long existing in 
Austria which was bestowed on ladies only. Be it 
granted that the Sternkreutz Order was only given 
to noble dames ; but it was an order of knighthood, 
and its very existence proved that women's equality 
with men was recognised at the Court, even at a 
time when it otherwise deserved to be called the 
nio$t narrow-minded in Europe. 

The Empress as a Woman 121 

The part taken in politics during the era of 
Napoleon III. by the wife of the then Austrian 
Ambassador in Paris, 
Princess Paulina 
Metternich, has be- 
come historical, and 
similar important 
positions were held by 
the Countess Taafe 
and many others. 
Princess Metternich 
must be remembered 
amongst the remark- 
able women of the 
century ; she is at 
present engaged in 
writing her memoirs, 
which are sure to 
contain many most 
interesting incidents of 
the last eleven years 
of the Second Empire. 
Her friendship with 
the Empress Elizabeth was very intimate, and it 
appeared that the two ladies had many objects in 

Pritice Richard presented his credentials as ambassador 

122 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

to Napoleon III. in December 1859 ; he was then only 
thirty-one years old, and the Princess twenty-four — the 
very prime of life for both ; she was the daughter of 
a great Hungarian nobleman, the late Count Sandor, 
one of the most renowned sportsmen and horsemen in 
that country, and of whose wonderful feats, achieve- 
ments, and foolhardy undertakings on horseback 
Hungary is even now full. Soon after the Princess 
had established herself in the French capital she became 
a persona graiissima in the Tuileries ; her accomplish- 
ments were many, her influence great, and as a 
conversationalist she had no rival ; she wielded an 
enormous power, and history some future day will tell 
what beneficent use she made of it. It was she who 
introduced Wagner's music into Paris. Tannhduser was 
received absolutely with derision. "And now," the 
Princess said a short time ago to an ambassador in 
Vienna, " the Parisians are more Wagnerian than I 
am myself." 

With the fall of Napoleon, Prince and Princess Met- 
ternich returned to Vienna, and the Princess's influence 
upon society was soon felt there. After the death of her 
husband in 1895 she retired almost entirely from Court 
life, but re-entered it this year (1898), and her first 
reappearance was at a most charming charity fete held 
in the Belvedere Gardens in Vienna, under the patronage 
pf Her Majesty and th^ Archduchesses. The Empress, 

The Empress as a Woman 


although absent, took the warmest interest in the phil- 
anthropic undertaking. It was an al-fresco arrange- 
ment, and tents of various colours, ten of each shade, 
ran down the centre avenue ; the articles sold in each 
tent were of the same colour, and the dresses of the 
ladies matched. 
Princess Metternich 
herself presided at 
one of the violet 
tents, and was in 
lilac silk trimmed 
with old point de 
Venice ; Countess 
Beckers wore violet 
and white checked 
silk, and a bonnet 
trimmed with purple 
and white hyacinths ; 
Princess Monte- 
nuovo had a blue 
stall, and wore 
corn-flower muslin 
trimmed with quantities of Valenciennes lace ; Countess 
Wydenbruck, who had as assistant Miss Clemens 
(Mark Twain's daughter), was in green silk, and wore 
a hat with wild roses. The rose-coloured tents had 
keepers in all shades of pink and crimson, Princess 


124 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Schwartzenberg being in deep pink and wearing a toque 
of carnations. All these ladies had been honoured by 
the late Empress's friendship. There was a novelty 
in the shape of a market-place, where noble ladies 
sat under huge mushroom umbrellas of different gay 
colours, and sold country produce, which included 
splendid grapes, fine peaches, and juicy nectarines. 

I have described this fair more in detail because 
it must stand as a type for many similar fites^ and 
because I wish to show as an undisputed fact that 
ladies under the leadership of Elizabeth or her deputy 
raised almost all the funds for the extensive charitable 
work in Austria. Their indefatigable energies and 
their resources seem to come to no end. 

As hostesses Viennese ladies rank very high. It was 
the cause of the greatest regret when the late Empress 
entirely retired from Court life after the death of her 
much-beloved son the Crown Prince ; but the spirit 
which she had introduced still remained, and her place 
was most fitly filled by either the Archduchess Marie 
Theresa (before she became a widow) or the Arch- 
duchess Otto, the Crown Prince's widow rarely caring 
to be conspicuous at Court festivities. However, the 
great hostess of to-day is the Archduchess Isabel, the 
wife of the Archduke PVederick, who is the possessor 
of immense wealth and of a splendid palace well 
situated for entertainments upon a large scale. Her 

The Empre&s as a Woman 


balls, next to the Court balls, are the most brilliant 
and exclusive, only imperial and royal personages, the 
members of the highest aristocracy, diplomats, and 
those holding high positions in the military and civil 
services having the entree to them. Princess Isabel 

is the mother of seven daughters, and one son {born 
quite recently), and is much liked in society ; her 
husband is an able and popular soldier ; and it may be 
said that the Empress always showed a very great liking 
for this imperial couple. I may mention here also that 
there is not a more popular lady in Viennese society 
than the wife of the British Ambassador, and the balls 

126 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

at the Embassy are counted among the best during the 
season ; they were some of the few which in former 
days were honoured by Her Majesty's presence. 

It would be quite impossible to give even an 
approximate list of the ladies of the gay world, of the 
haute finance^ etc, who are of renown as hostesses in 
that city, and as difficult would it be to describe the 
wholesome change which has taken place during the 
last forty years in the entertainments themselves. The 
formerly strictly observed ceremonial and etiquette have 
given place to a nonchalance and freedom introduced 
at Court by the Empress when a bride, which make 
the fetes of to-day really affairs of pleasure. 

Like our own country, Austria has, during the two 
or three last decades, produced some women renowned 
as novelists, poetesses, and actresses, who have been 
highly honoured and appreciated, and whose social 
position has become equal to any : we will name from 
the many only Madame Wolter, who married Count 
O'SuUivan, and PVaulein von Hohenfels, both of whom 
could boast not only of the esteem but also of the 
friendship of their imperial mistress. Many women 
have attained to a high degree in art, both in paint- 
ing and in sculpture, and have been distinguished 
by the Emperor. 

If we look into the lower spheres of society, we 
cannot help finding also here an evident change for 

The Empress as a Woman 


the better. The 
helpmate of the 
labouring man has 
become his counsel- 
lor, and the idea 
that there must be 
a master and a slave 
in the household has 
disappeared. Hus- f 

band and wife we ^j 

find to-day on equal I^'- a * j 

terms, each attend- \ L-r> < 

ing to his or her 
duties, and especially 

amongst the farmers, .A'-i.--.-, 

where we may fre- ^"^ '■*'^'^ xadahe wolizb, court actress. 
quently see that the woman occupies the superior 
position in the household. 

In order to perpetuate the work of his beloved 
consort, Francis Joseph has established a new order 
for women, called the Elizabeth Order, and the 
rescript which was issued with the establishment of this 
decoration shows how completely Francis Joseph under- 
stood and appreciated the influence which his wife had 
brought to bear upon the female portion of his Empire. 
The Emperor wrote thus to the Minister of the 
imperial house, Count Golukowsky : — 

128 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

" Bowed down by the deepest grief through the 
great loss which has come over my house and my 
peoples by the sudden death of my most beloved wife, 
the Empress and Queen Elizabeth, in order to create 
a perpetual memorial to the departed, I have decided 
to found an order for women, which I have named 
in memory of her whom I have so truly loved, and 
for whom I grieve so deeply, the Elizabeth Order." 

And here follow the words to which I wish particu- 
larly to call the attention of my readers. The Emperor 
continues : — 

" The late Empress had been all through her life 
anxious to do good, and to alleviate the sufFering of 
her neighbours ; and therefore this new-founded order 
shall have the purpose of rewarding women and girls 
in every condition and in every sphere of life or 
profession for deeds of humanity or philanthropy, thus 
following the example set by the illustrious dead," 

The first to receive this order was Countess Sztaray, 
who accompanied the late Empress when she was 
murdered by the dastardly hand of Lucheni. 

The sympathetic heart of the royal victim of an 
anarchist had ever been looking round to see where she 
might bring consolation and alleviation of suffering. 
With what compassion she entered the villa of the 
ex-Empress Eugenie at Cap Martin, embracing the 
sufferer warmly and showing through that act that 


The Empress as a Woman 129 

the change of position made no difference in her own 
feelings ! Never will it be forgotten with what tender 
love she attended the ex-Empress Charlotte of Mexico 


when the terrible death of her husband had darkened her 
intellect, and frequently would she visit the poor wife of 
the murdered Maximilian, who suffers mentally and lives 
a secluded life at Laeken, near Brussels in Belgium. 


130 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Whenever the late Empress was needed at a place 
of nf>isery, there, like a good fairy, she appeared, 
bringing help to the sick and poor. When during 
the wars the wounded soldiers arrived by rail at the 
hospitals in Vienna, she herself received them at the 
station, visited them day and night at the hospitals, 
consoling, assuring, alleviating. One of her noble 
deeds which has become known out of the many she 
was ever doing shows better than words the kindness 
of her heart. It was a young trooper, whose wounds 
were of such a nature that his recovery became almost 
an impossibility ; the Empress stood at his bedside, 
asking him if she could do anything for him, when 
he humbly informed her that his great wish was that 
a letter should be written to his mother, sister, and 
sweetheart, who were many miles away in Trans- 
Leithania, and whom he felt he would never see 

The imperial visitor promised that his desire should 
be carried into effect, and immediately on her return 
home she dispatched one of her equerries down to 
the little Carpathian village with orders to bring 
immediately the relatives of this soldier to Vienna, 
and a few days afterwards she personally had the 
pleasure of leading the poor old mother and the 
two younger women to the bedside of the cavalry- 
man. Who could describe the pleasure and happiness 

The Empress as a Woman 


which existed for some hours at that sad bedside ? 
But a reward which was not expected came to Her 
Majesty : through the nursing of his loving relatives 

death was warded off, and in spite of the assertions 
of the doctor that his life could not be saved the 
young soldier recovered, and, liberally endowed by 
Her Majesty, was able within a year to be married 

13^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

to the choice of his heart, who had assisted in nursing 
him back from death's door. 

But it was not only the wounded to whom the 
Empress gave sympathy. Frequently she spent hours 
at the bedside of sufferers in the hospitals in Austria 
and Hungary, lightening their heavy burdens by her 
charming conversation and her compassionate words, 
and more than once were the physicians obliged to 
request the exalted visitor to think of her own health 
and seek much-needed rest. 

In every aspect of her varied character she was 
admirable, in none more so than in her sympathy 
with the weak and suffering and her strict love of 
justice. Her sphere of benevolence was unlimited ; 
at home or abroad her purse was ever open to those 
who needed assistance. She was a bountiful bene- 
factress to the churches and charities in Paris, as in 
every place where she sojourned. 

Can it be wondered at, that, with such a woman 
at the head of society, the tone of it should be 
the best? The Emperor, who so fully entered into 
the new spirit which the Empress had introduced, 
was always willing to recognise the merits of women 
in as full a measure as those of men, and on various 
occasions he showct.! pointedly his regard for the 
gentler sex. SiMiie years ago he attended a Tyrolese 
rifle meeting at Innsbruck, and, joining in the spirit 



The Empress as a Woman 


of the thing, not only distinguished the pretty peasant 

girl who was deputed to hand the Emperor flowers 

and his mug of wine by pressing a kiss upon 

her brow, but caused her 

to journey especially to 

Vienna to be received in 

private audience by the 

Empress, who presented 

her with a diamond cross 

as a souvenir. 

In the more intimate 
circle of the Emperor's 
family the prevailing tone 
is a most charming one ; 
the Archduchesses have laid 
aside all their stifl^ness of 
former years, and appear 
as women among women , 
and the Empress herself 
always advocated marriages 
where love should play a 
more important part than 
convenattce. Her own youngest daughter was married 
to the choice of her heart, and no considerations were 
allowed to stand in her way. Even in cases of 
mesalliances the Empress had always shown great 
kindness and friendliness to the ladies who have been 

134 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

chosen as spouses by her relations, and never allowed 
them to feel in any way their inferiority of birth. 

It was often said that no one could be a truer and 
more sincere friend than the Empress Elizabeth, and 
those to whom she allowed the privilege of joining 
the circle of her friends were soon convinced of her 
unselfishness, true kindness, and noble nature. The 
ladies of her Court worshipped her ; the gentlemen 
would willingly, one and all, have laid down their 
lives for their imperial mistress. Her servants, of 
whom a great many were English and Irish, showed 
always the greatest devotion to her, and to be in 
her personal service was considered one of the most 
coveted of positions. 

One of the privileges of the Empress of Austria 
is the nomination of " Palast Damen " (ladies of the 
palace), a much-coveted dignity, as it gives the free 
entree to the more intime Court circle, and would 
correspond perhaps with our extra or honorary ladies- 
in-waiting. Elizabeth was most happy in her selec- 
tions, but even here she could not free herself entirely 
from her love for the beautiful, and it was often stated 
by connoisseurs that the bevy of lovely young women 
and girls with whom she liked to surround herself 
afforded a most charming picture. Many of those 
whom she especially honoured with her friendship 
are amongst the past and present beauties of the 

The Empress as a Woman 'J5 

Empire. Some of our portraits will speak for them- 
selves, and confirm what can only be inadequately 

The Princess Montenuovo and the Countesses 
Pototzka, Wyden- 
bruck, Josephine 
Kinsky, and Haas- 
WEchter are a few 
of the galaxy. 

The spirit of 
chivalry which Her 
Majesty implanted 
in Austrian society 
has been ' marve- 
lous ; and one of 
the first instances — 
quite a typical one 

—is the deed of a ^„^.^^^, ^^^^„,^^ ^,^^^^. 

woman, the sister- 
in-law of the Empress, the Archduchess Marie Theresa, 
who actually put to shame the stronger sex in an 
emergency. When staying at her country residence, 
a fire broke out in a village in the neighbourhood ; 
whereupon she instantly ordered her carriage, and 
drove to the scene of the conflagration ; there she 
learnt that in one of the rooms of the house a 
little child was imprisoned ; seeing the men standing 



13^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

around reluctant t9 risk their lives, she dashed up the 
burning staircase before anybody had time to prevent 
her, returning in, a few moments with the child 
practically unhurt in her arms. The brave Princess's 
hair was scorched and burnt, and her hands were badly 
injured, but she refused to receive medical aid until 
the doctor had satisfied her that the little one was 

Although herself overwhelmed by a burden of mis- 
fortunes, Elizabeth never seemed happier than when 
able to act the part of the consoling angel ; and her 
friendship, love, and almost reverence for those who 
had passed through distress and bitter woe were un- 
speakably strong and heartfelt; it was for this reason 
that she harboured in her heart so much devotion 
and esteem for the venerable ex-Queen of Hanover, 
the oldest royal lady now living, who, since her late 
husband lost his throne, has made her home in the 
Austrian Empire. 

Naturally all the great philanthropic and charitable 
institutions in Austria and Hungary, and even some 
in foreign countries, were under the protection of the 
Empress; and in 1875, at the one-hundredth year of 
its existence, the Institute for the Free Education of 
Officers' Daughters received her special attention. She 
sent a donation of ten thousand florins, and made a 
strong appeal to the public on behalf of the institu- 

The Empress as a Woman 


tion ; and, to her 
great pleasure, this 
resulted in an 
addition to its 
funds of more 
than half a million 
florins. In a simi- 
lar way she helped 
the Establishment 
for the Care of 
Daughters of Poor 
Civil Servants. 

In 1878, after 
the occupation by 
Austria of Bosnia 
and Herzegovina, 
during which so 

many soldiers lost their hves, she perceived the 
necessity for the establishment of a regular fund for 
the assistance of those who were wounded or ill. 
In the letter written by her own hand to the Prime 
Minister, she proposed the formation of the Patriotic 
Women's Union for the purpose of assisting soldiers 
in poor circumstances, and of nursing the sick and 
wounded. This fund is now well established, and 
the members, who reside in all parts of the vast 
Empire, are intimately united in carrying out 


Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

the benevolent intentions of the " mother of the 

In closing this chapter I cannot forego repeating 

the conviction, that, however nobly the murdered 
Empress may stand out as the mistress of a great 
Court, as the consort of a powerful Emperor, as 

The Empress as a Woman 139 

mother, student, philanthropist, as a woman among 
women, her memory must shine with a yet greater 

Her husband, the Emperor himself, paid her, per- 
haps, the highest compliment, when, in addressing 
an assembly of his loyal Hungarians some time ago, 
he spoke these memorable words : " Without her I 
could never have done the work that God has given 
me to do." 






SO lofty a character as that of the Empress 
Elizabeth must needs show a great leaning 
towards poetry, music, and art. That she found 
great consolation and forgetfulness of uncongenial 
realities whenever she could give herself up entirely 
to the pathos and poesy of her favourite writers has 
been frequently proved, and studies of the sublime 
and noble rendered her oblivious of the prose of 
e very-day life. 

The melancholy music of the lyre of Heinrich Heine 
had a soothing influence upon her, and it is no doubt 
for that reason that she loved him so dearly. We 
are able to give in translation the poems she especially 
admired, and which are marked in her volumes, and 
show traces of their frequent perusal, even to the 
distinct marks of tears which had fallen on the pages 
as they were read. 

** YouT little hand lay on my heart, dearest dear 1 
Do you in that small room a great knocking hear? 
There a carpenter dwells, hard and cunning is he, 
Who is nailing together a coffin for me. 


144 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Such hammering and knocking, by night and by day ! 
Long since it has driven my sleep quite away. 
Be quick now, Master Carpenter, please ! 
So that I soon may sleep at ease ! " 

"Thy face so sweet and fair doth seem; 
Of late I saw it, but in dream : 
So mild in its angelic grace. 
But pale, with sorrow pale, thy face. 

Only the lips like rosebuds blow, 
But, kissed by death, soon blanchM grow; 
To heaven withdrawn, from whence it came ; 
Of holy eyes the dying flame.'' 

"There stands a fir tree lonely 
On a naked Norland height ; 
He sleeps — ice and snow enfold him 
Beneath a coverlet white. 

He dreams there of a palm tree 
In the Morning-land afar, 
Lonely in silent sorrow 
On a bare clifFs burning scaur." 

"Death is the cool and quiet night, 
And life the weary, sultry day ; 
The darkness falls — I sleep away 
The toils and troubles of the light." 

Her veneration for the German bard took also a 
practical form. She never visited Paris without making 




The Empress as a Student and Reader 147 

a pilgrimage to his grave in the Montmartre Cemetery. 
She has even left the record of one of these visits to 
the burial-place of her favourite author in some verses, 
noting in these compositions that before reaching 
" God's acre " she went to the church of Notre Dame 
des Victoires, in order to pray for the repose of the soul 
of her beloved poet. She also gave instructions to 
have the grave taken care of and flowers placed upon 
it from time to time. 

The Empress was an enthusiast for all that was 
English, and her studies of English literature were 
continuous. She was a devoted Shakespearian scholar, 
and her own commentator; she translated his Tempest y 
Hamlet y King Lear^ and parts of others of his immortal 
plays into modern Greek. Next in favour was Byron 
and after him Longfellow. 

Of prose-writers she especially admired George 
Eliot and Lord Byron, but she read also with great 
interest the novels of Mrs. Humphry Ward, and was 
much impressed by Florence Marryat's *' The Blood 
of the Vampire." She is also reported to have 
been particularly struck with the imaginative power 
of Marie Corelli's writings, and only this year (1898) 
she sent her a letter assuring her that her books had 
given her many hours of happiness and rest. The 
Empress regretted that the novelist should have vented 
her own private grievances against the critics, and 

14^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

considered that in those passages Marie Corelli had 
been guilty of a literary indiscretion which somewhat 
marred the beauty of the story. 

It was a strange coincidence that the last English 
novel the Empress read with her permanent English 
reader, Mr. Barker, should have been Marion 
Crawford's *' Corleone," which deals with the organisa- 
tion of the Maffia in Sicily. She was strongly moved 
by the horrors of the work. Mr. Barker states that 
he selected " Corleone " in order to make the Empress 
familiar with the murderous machinations of blood- 
thirsty wretches, hoping it might lead to her taking 
more care of her personal safety. 

It will throw some light upon the characteristics 
of the Empress Elizabeth, if we show how it came 
about that she engaged Mr. Barker as her reader. 

The gentleman in question seems a veritable per- 
sonage out of the Orient of one's travels, combined 
with the living plastic of a Greek " study " in modern 

We cannot do better than report verbatim the 
interview the correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette 
had with Mr. Barker shortly after the assassination 
of his imperial mistress : — 

" Mr. Barker himself must have noticed my curiosity, 
and proceeded to explain. 

" ' I am an Englishman, although you perhaps wonder 

The Empress as a Student and Reader 149 

how that can be. Well, my father was an English- 
man and my mother an Oriental. My grandfather 
was British Consul in Egypt. How did I become 
acquainted with the Empress ? Oh, that was at 
Alexandria in 1891 — a very interesting episode. I 
was lying ill from malaria, caught at Corfu, when my 
favourite brother and intimate friend — you smile at 
that expression, but surely a relative is not necessarily 
a friend ! — rushed in one day with the intelligence that 
the Empress was at Cairo. " Frederick ! " he said, 
" write a poem about her palace at Corfu and dedicate 
it to her." I laughed at the idea. I believe I said 
in my impatience, " Confound the Empress ! " But, 
anyhow, I allowed myself to be persuaded, and a few 
months later I received an invitation to visit her on 
board the Miramare, lying in Alexandria Harbour. 
Her Majesty was sitting alone on deck. She thanked 
me in that sweet manner that was hers for the poem, 
and put questions to me in various languages. Half 
an hour afterwards the Mir am are sailed. 

(t i a Yj^g gentleman who writes Greek so well," as 
she described me, did not see her again until the 
spring of 1892, when she asked me if I would join 
her for a couple of months on a trip. Those two 
months were extended to thirteen, and in 1897 I was 
appointed her permanent reader. And now the end 
h^s gome — the end, fer DiOy to a life that was ^n 

150 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

earthly paradise. The world will surely never see 
her like again.' 

" ' You were very much with the Empress, I 
believe ? ' 

" ' Yes, sometimes as much as twelve hours a day. 
You see I am a linguist, and if her Majesty was not 
speaking Hungarian with Countess Sztaray, she was 
chatting Greek, Italian, French, or English with me.' " 

Mr. Barker states that the late Empress spoke 
English better than German. " When she was feeling 
well, we would start reading at about half-past eight 
o'clock. Sometimes I would sit and sing to her some 
of my Greek pastorals and lyrics on the guitar. She 
was herself a poetess — I might say a demi-goddess." 
With these words Mr. Barker terminated his interview 
with the Pall Mall Gazette correspondent. 

I may mention here that the Empress found also 
much pleasure in the Irish tales of Charles Lever, 
whose personal acquaintance she had made during 
the time the novelist was British Consul in Trieste. 

The Empress did not neglect French authors, past 
and present, as she read the works of Jean Jacques 
Rousseau, and often was she seen with a volume of 
Victor Hugo as her companion ; it was said, too, that 
she paid great attention to the works of Voltaire and 

A§ an accomplished linguist, she was able to r?^d 

The Empress as a Student and Reader 151 

most of the works of literary merit in the original. 
She spoke and wrote fluently and even elegantly 
German, Hungarian, Czechish, Polish, Roumanian, 
Italian, Romanic (modern Greek), English, and French, 
besides Latin and ancient Greek. 

As she took up new studies from time to time, she 
engaged as her teachers men well known and renowned. 
One of these, Mr. Russo Poulos, Oriental Professor 
at the Vienna University, was her Greek teacher and 
reader, and he has written an interesting article about 
the linguistic attainments of the Empress. 

** It was in a lovely spot," he writes, '* where the 
palace of the Achilleon now stands, that Her Majesty 
first lived in a tiny house, near the village of Gasturi. 
Here, amid the olive groves, with a distant view of 
Corfu and the Albanian mountains before her eyes, she 
became enchanted with the Greek scenery and language. 
She visited every historic spot, and made endless 
excursions in the hills. For nine months she studied 
Greek, and when she knew the modern language 
she desired also to be acquainted with the ancient 

In 1889 Mr. Russo Poulos went to Corfu, where Her 
Majesty studied Greek throughout the whole winter. 
She learnt rapidly, and her sympathy with the Greek 
people aided her greatly. During voyages to Tunis 
and Malta her studies were pursued unremittingly. 

152 Elizabetht Empress of Austria 

The poems of Christopoulos Balaurides were especially 
beloved by the Empress ; she read the Odyssey in 
modern Greek with ardour, and also studied some 
works of Heine in the same language. Although only 
engaged for one year, Mr. Russo Poulos remained for 
three, and Her Majesty attained the highest proficiency 
in modern Greek. The Emperor was often present 
at the lessons, and followed his wife's progress with 

She was perfectly at home when in the society of 
scientists, poets, painters, and artists in general ; and 
although her early experience in Vienna did not con- 
tribute towards making the capital a favourite spot 
with her, still she loved it as the centre of literature, 
art, and music ; and she bestowed her sincere friendship 
on many men of letters, painters, and musicians, and 
numbered Wagner,* Liszt, Makart, Munkacsy, and 
many others amongst her intimates. The paintings of 
Munkacsy especially impressed her very strongly, and 
she frequently visited his studio and remained for hours 
in conversation with him. He is a fine-looking man, tall, 
broad, and erect, inclined, if anything, to stoutness ; his 
dazzling white hair is brushed back, so that it stands 
all on end, and his white beard is combed out somewhat 
truculently. His cheek bones are high, his eyes small 
and deep-set, his skin and lips of unusual thickness. 
His nanje was originally **Lieb," but in 1874 ^^ ^^^ 

The Empress as a Student and Reader 153 

created Count Munkacsy — Munlcacs being his native 
town. The story goes that he began life as a carpenter ; 
but this employment being uncongenial to him, he 

^^ , '*■„'; 







1 1 




soon found his way into some studio at Pesth, then at 
Vienna, and lastly in Munich. He is now one of the 
most celebrated painters of the century, and commands 

154 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

very large sums for the sale of his pictures, of which 
perhaps the best known is '' Ecce Homo/' so greatly 
admired in England. 

On similar friendly terms was the Empress with 
Makart, and many hours did she spend in his studio, 
which in itself was an art museum. 

In science she took great interest, and frequently 
commanded lectures at her apartments. She studied 
politics, although she never took an active part in 
them, and also national economy. Her views were 
extremely broad, and Dr. Max Falk, who taught 
her Hungarian, and was a constitutionalist of the 
advanced school, tells us that she astounded him one 
day by asking him abruptly, *'Is it also your opinion 
that the only sensible form of State government is 
the Republican ? " " What suggested this question to 
Your Majesty.^" stammered Falk. "Oh,'* rejoined 
the Empress, " it is a question which I often used 
to discuss with Count Maylath, and I should like to 
know what you have to say about it." 

She was perfectly open-minded in respect to social 
and political issues calling for solution. Although her 
inherited instincts caused her to be against democratic 
governments, she was still keenly perceptive by the 
light of present-day thought and intelligence of the 
failings and drawbacks of personal government. 

She joyfully welcomed learned soqieties, and it gave 

The Empress as a Student and Reader 155 

her unalloyed pleasure to entertain them. In 1862 
there met in Vienna the International Society of 
Jurists (Juristentag), and upon the initiative of Her 
Majesty all the members were hospitably received 
at Schonbrunn, and it was observed on that occasion 
how well informed the Empress was even then, at 
the age of twenty-five, and how she entered into 
animated conversation with various men of great 
renown, showing no mean amount of knowledge in 
that branch of science. 

Such admiration did she win at that time, that 
spontaneously a demonstration was prepared to do 
her public honour, and on the 25th of August a 
monster torch-light procession moved to the suburban 
castle, the torch-bearers consisting principally of the 
members of all the learned societies of Vienna, of 
foreign guests, and of philanthropic and art institu- 
tions, etc., making a mass of more than ten thousand 
persons. The Mayor of Vienna was received by the 
Empress on the balcony of the imperial residence, 
where she accepted a large bouquet of flowers from 
his hands, which was offered as a token of the people's 
esteem and love, and as a mark of admiration from 
men of letters and of scientists and artists especially. 
Elizabeth, in replying to the short speech of the Mayor, 
said that the memory of that day would always be 
one of the most valuable, and th^t she felt most 

15^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

honoured by the ovation. She was indeed greatly 
touched by the demonstration, which so clearly showed 
that she was appreciated by men of learning and lovers 
of science. 

Her love of knowledge was no doubt inherited 
from her father, 'and was again visibly transmitted 
to her children, whose turn of mind runs distinctly 
in the same groove. The late Crown Prince was 
an ardent student, especially of natural history, and 
both Princess Gisela and the Archduchess Valerie 
are interested in science and art to a great extent. 
Her Majesty's selection of persons who should 
superintend her children's education showed her good 
sense and liberal ideas. Bishop Ronay, the Hungarian, 
to whom was entrusted the education of the Arch- 
duchess Valerie, has given to the world in an interesting 
little work containing his reminiscences the instruc- 
tions given to him by the Empress personally. " I 
wish my daughter to be initiated in all sciences of 
the day. I prefer that she should have only one 
teacher — yourself," said the Empress to the Bishop. 
*' I want her to be educated on religious principles, 
but by no means in narrow-mindedness and fanaticism. 
Let her be taught to the widest extent by that great 
teacher of us all — Nature." 

To her Greek studies the Empress was, as we have 
before intimated, very devoted ; and having mastered 


The Empress as a Student and Reader* 159 

the language, she loved to surround herself with men 
and women who shared with herself a love of classic 
lore — like Dr. Christomanos and many others. 

In music she was proficient on the piano, and later 
in life took anew lessons from Abbe Liszt, for whom 
she had the greatest veneration. She considered it 
a special privilege to be allowed to play with 
him in duet. The Rhapsodic Hongroisie^ his com- 
position, was one of her most favoured pieces. 
Wagner she admired, but perhaps more as a poet 
than as a musician. Rubenstein was also a great 
favourite ; but Chopin touched her most strongly, and 
she never tired of playing or hearing his Nocturnes, 
which are so full of deep feeling. 

A more simple instrument upon which she liked 
to play, and which was taught her by her father, was 
the Alpine zither. She played it remarkably well and 
with great expression, such as one would hardly believe 
could possibly be drawn from so simple a contrivance 
as the zither. She performed on various occasions 
at charity concerts, and was certainly far above the 
average amateur musician. It was one of her most 
distinct characteristics that whatever she undertook she 
carried to a successful issue, and her tenacity was well 
known. She was also the happy possessor of great 
patience, and her readers tell us that when the read- 
ing of a new novel or any literary production was 

i6o Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

commenced she never would allow it to be left un- 
finished, even if it bored her. " One never knows," she 
used to say, " what it may be — the ending may be 
good enough to make up for the poor beginning." 

It was one of the highly esteemed prerogatives of 
the imperial lady to seek out struggling young artists 
and litterateurs^ and afFord them such assistance as would 
allow their talents to have full scope ; and many were 
her personal pensioners who gratefully and lovingly 
worked in Rome and other art centres, in the hope 
of rewarding their noble patroness at some future 
day by a life-long devotion and gratitude. But what 
she did was from feelings dictated by her conscience, 
which told her that it was her duty in her position 
to assist in the development of talents which a Higher 
Being than herself had planted in the hearts of recipients 
of her bounty : sufficient reward did she find in their 

Her exalted position and her wealth, combined with 
her love and admiration for the fine arts, made her 
naturally a great patroness of artists ; and her personal 
collection of pictures and statuary, as well as of other 
works of art, was perhaps one of the finest possessed 
by any private person. 

Certainly it can be said that the Empress Elizabeth 
occupied a high place in the world of science, literature, 
music, and art, and that her tastes were distinguished 

The Empress as a Student and Reader i6i 

by a chastity^ and elevation rarely to be found at the 
present time ; but especially remarkable was the variety 
and Catholicism of the subjects which arrested the 
attention of this imperial scholar and the wide scope 
of her interests and studies. 








THERE is traceable in the race of the Wittelsbachs 
a very strong propensity to create architectural 
monuments, to beautify and build. Ludwig I. of 
Bavaria changed Old Munich into a modern Athens, 
his son Max continued the work, and the fantastic 
Ludwig II. left behind him palaces and castles not 
rivalled in grandeur and magnificence in the whole 
world. The same spirit constrained the Empress 
Elizabeth to erect palaces which should be her own 
conception and would exactly suit her tastes. It was 
for this reason that Her Majesty, although having at 
her disposal more than fifty residences, castles, and 
villas, craved for structures with which she might be 
fully identified and individually connected, which should 
be her own property, and represent as much as possible 
her ideal ; and in this way arose such palaces as Lainz 
near Vienna and the Achilleon in Corfu. 

At her coronation in Hungary the nation presented 

their Queen with the Castle of Godolo, and this has 


1 66 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

remained ever one of her favourite residences. How- 
ever, I do not intend here to speak of this country 
seat, which was also her hunting-box : I mean to 
devote this chapter only to the two buildings which 
she herself conceived, planned, and completed, and 
which stamped her as an architect of the noblest taste, 
and proved her love for the beautiful, pure, and simple. 
That she -was greatly influenced when building the 
Achilleon by her love for Greece, ancient and modern, 
is evident ; whereas Liinz, which represents the modern 
architectural school, shows us that her appreciation 
of beauty was not narrowed or limited to one style. 
Very few even of those who know Vienna will have 
ever seen the beautiful retreat of the late Empress at" 
Lainz. Although within driving distance of the capital, 
one might believe it to be many miles away in the 
country. The grounds are laid out by the cleverest of 
landscape gardeners, and seem many times more spacious 
than they really are. The flower gardens are magnifi- 
cent, especially in the early spring, when they are filled 
with the finest varieties of hyacinths and tulips. Large 
beds of lilies-of-the-valley and violets simulate a carpet 
and are a triumph in that style of gardening. In the 
summer there is a great variety of lilies to be seen, and 
the show of chrysanthemums in the autumn is also most 
lovely. The palace itself is comparatively small, but 
by clever contrivance it was made to accommodate the 

- i 

The Empress as an Architect 


suite of the Empress, which, even when cut down on 
a visit to Lainz, was of goodly numbers. 

A peculiarity of the house is the chapel, if I may 
call it by this name. The Empress had arranged in 
the hall an alcove, which contains an altar, upon which 

every morning Mass was said by one of Her Majesty's 
chaplaiiis. A large mirror, which can be moved by 
a hidden spring, glides from wall to wall, and generally 
covers the alcove, so that no trace of an altar is 

The Empress's bedroom contains a beautiful replica 
jn pale pink Sicilian marble of the Njob? in the Uffi^i 

1 68 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Gallery in Florence, surrounded with ferns and minia- 
ture palms, the whole being lit up by small electric 
jets during the night. 

But the better-known architectural work of Her 
Majesty is the villa which she erected in Corfu, and 
which she called, after the Homeric hero Achilleus, 
the Achilleon. As far back as 1861, when she 
had spent a winter in Madeira on the advice of 
her physicians and returned in the late spring to 
Trieste, she visited on her way the Island of Corfu, 
and remained there some days, staying at the Villa 
*' Mon Repos," then the summer residence of the Lord 
High Commissioner for the British Government, which 
was placed at her disposal. She at once became greatly 
charmed with the semi-tropical scenery ; and becoming 
more and more enchanted with it, felt a great desire 
to build an establishment for herself on this charming 

Corfu is best known to those who have studied 
Greek history and read the poems of the immortal 
Homer as Corcyra, and is supposed to be the Scheria 
where Ulysses in his wanderings found the Phasacians. 
It was on these shores where Nausicaa, the most 
charming maiden that ever turned her fingers to 
homely housework, took her father's clothes to wash, 
and escorted the much-tried warrior within reach of 
security. It was on this island that Ulysses gave much 


The Empress as an Architect , 171 

of the remarkable and almost incredible history of his 
wanderings. In more recent times Corfu was known 
as Corcyra, the headquarters of the innumerable 
pirates who in those days endangered navigation. As 
early as 229 b.c. the island came under the sway of 
the Romans. We find little recorded of the history 
of Corfu up to 1205, when it was in the possesssion 
of the Venetians till 1797, with the exception of one 
century. From 1807-18 14 it was occupied by the 
French, and fron 181 5-1863 it formed one of the 
seven islands of the Ionian League under a British 
Lord High Commissioner, till at last in November 
1863 it was incorporated in the kingdom of Greece. 

Elizabeth purchased the ruined Villa Braila, near 
Gasturi, situated on a wooded hill — a most charming 
spot, from which a very fine view is obtained of the 
blue stretch of ocean, the undulating verdure-clad 
slopes of the island, and the distant shore of Albania. 

In the Bay of Gasturi the Empress built a jetty 
of white marble to facilitate the landing from her 
yacht. Near the landing-stage stands a white building, 
the engine-house for the generation of electricity used 
for the lighting of the park and castle, and hence in 
straight line between ever-blooming orange trees and 
mighty cypresses and olives a road leads up to the 
palace. The whole mountain is covered with thick 
vegetation, and beside the semi-tropical foliage can be 

172 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

seen the black oak and the yellow broom, while the 
ground is covered with anemones and daisies. 

As an entrance to the park there are erected most 

artistic wrought-iron gates, and on passing through one 
finds oneself at the foot of marble terraces ; there is 
a large ornamental fountain, and graceful staircases 
lead on both sides up to the terrace ; marble steps 

The Empress as an Architect i73 

lead up higher and higher, till an antique temple is 
reached, which the mistress of the Achilleon consecrated 

to her favourite poet, Heinrich Heine. White 
columns support a cupola crowned by an angel 
holding a wreath of laurels in his hands. Under the 
cupola there is a Hfe-like statue of the singer of love 

174 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

and woe ; worn out he seems, sitting in an armchair, 
his knees covered with a woollen coverlet, his head 
sunk upon his breast, and with eyes which appear to be 
filled with tears he looks out upon the blue sea and 
upon the far-stretching purple mountains ; in his hand 
he holds a scroll, upon which there is written : — 

*' What means this lonely tear ? 
It still dims my view, 
So many years 
It lingers in my eyes. 

• • • • 

Thou lone and lingering tear, 
Dissolve now also." 

The work was done by a renowned Danish sculptor, 
Louis Hasselriis, in Rome, who, himself a warm 
admirer of the poet, has put much spirit into the 
statue. All round the temple there are ancient cypress 
and gigantic olive trees. Behind the temple is situated 
what may be called the most beautiful wild park which 
the sunny South and the art of the landscape gardener 
could create. Various roads and avenues lead hence 
up to the White Palace, which takes its name from 
that hero who was a type of everything that was noble, 
powerful, and grand in the classic history of Ancient 

As soon as the Empress had decided to build a 
home for herself on that classic ground, she consulted 

The Empress as an Architect 17$ 

the inspired word- pal liter of ancient lore, Alexander, 
Baron of Warsberg. It was he who first designed 
the plans for the 
palace, which the Em- 
press afterwards altered 
according to her own 

The situation is 
unique : the Empress 
selected the site herself, 
and created upon the 
ruins of the old villa 
the Achilleon, with a 
magnificent peristyle, 
atrium, and a garden 
of muses. R a /Fa e 1 e 
Carito, a celebrated 
architect of Naples, 
changed the ideal plan 
of the castle into such 
an one as could be 

carried into modern reality. However, nothing was 
done without the full consent of the Empress, who was 
in daily consultation with the architect. The Achilleon 
lies to the south of the capital. Doric is the predominant 
type of architecture, with a slight intermixture of Ionic. 
The colonnade on the east is especially fine, and is 

17^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

ornamented with frescoes of great artistic beauty. The 
subjects chosen are Apollo and Daphne, blind Homer 
reaching for his lyre, Theseus and Ariadne, and -Ssop, 
surrounded by an entranced multitude, reading his 
fables to them. The colouring of these pictures is most 
remarkable and rich. 

It was only possible for an empress, and only for 
such an empress as Elizabeth was, to build a palace 
as we see here in its superb whiteness standing in its 
dark green surroundings. The grounds are ornamented 
with the finest statues procurable, both antique and 
modern, amongst which perhaps the most beautiful 
are those of the Dying Achilleus and the Peri 
(Byron). The rooms Her Majesty used are situated 
on the third floor, which opens on to the hill side, 
and leads into the Garden of the Muses — a square 
surrounded by high cypress trees and statues of 
more than life size. Her Majesty was thus enabled 
to step out into the grounds without disturbing any 
of her household. In these apartments she was entirply 
alone. In the storey below there was a suite of rooms 
for the Emperor and another for her daughter Valerie. 

I will endeavour to describe the palace, as far as 
words can do so. In front there is a grand portico, 4 

which leads into the open atrium ; heavy purple 
velvet curtains divide the outer from the inner colon- ^ 

nade, the floors being inlaid with many-coloured marble 

The Empress as an Architect 179 

slabs, whilst a most graceful and light staircase 
leads to the upper storeys. The hall is adorned with 
frescoes representing dancing nymphs, and is turned 
almost into a winter garden through the presence 
of many fan-shaped 
palms stretching up to 
the ceiling. Here is 
the smoking-room, a 
library, sitting-rooms, 
and the dining-room for 
the household ; alt are 
of fine dimensions and 
in pure classic style, 
as far as the demands 
of the present render 
it possible. The stair- 
case is in the Greek 
Pompeian style ; a 
large skylight allows 
the light to fall down 
and show to full ad- 
vantage the colossal 
fresco painting which 

fills one whole side of the walls, representing the 
Triumph of Achilleus as he is dragging the corpse 
of Hector round the fallen walls of Troy. 

The apartments of Elizabeth herself are the most 


i8o Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

ideal one can imagine ; and the spirit of poetry- 
melancholy ever makes itself felt. Everything here 
she has endowed with her own individuality ; every 
piece of carving, every painting or statue, was selected 
by herself. The rooms are in accordance with the 
descriptions of those said to have been occupied by 
Penelope and Helena ; even her bedstead, which stands 
only about eight inches from the floor, . is shaped 
according to the descriptions contained in the ancient 
epic ; the four posts are adorned with smiling wood 
nymphs, and a rich silken cover is negligently thrown 
over the white linen sheets and pillows. 

The most valuable and chaste collection is formed 
by the statues which adorn the so-called Garden of 
the Muses ; they are mostly works of the classic art 
which were brought from Rome, where the Empress 
purchased them from Prince Borghese. There is one 
statue here, not practically belonging to this classic 
company, which is Canova's " Third " Dancer, for 
which it is rumoured the lovely Princess Paulina 
Borghese, sister to Napoleon I., stood as a model. 

The Dying Achilleus is by the Berlin sculptor 
Ernest Herter. The Empress also erected a statue 
of Lord Byron in memory of that Anglo-Greek patriot 
and singer. 

Even the furniture was made, according to the 
strictest instructions of Her Majesty, from the designs 

The Empress as an Architect i8i 

of Professor Caponetti in the Albergo dei Poveri in 
Naples. Here one finds lovely chairs inlaid with silver 
and ivory, covered with sheep's fleeces ; also beautifully 
polished tables, sofas, and other ornaments, like those 
mentioned in Homer's poems, or made after the models 
which were excavated in Pompeii and Herculaneum. 

One of the favourite spots in this fairy-like scene 
was the terrace, over which there was spread an awning 
of antique cloth. On a wind-exposed corner there 
was fixed an -^olian harp ; and one view was of the 
blue sea ; while a marble bench formed in a half-circle 
reminded one of the ancient Greek seats, as we see 
them so fi-equently represented in the pictures by 
Alma Tadema. 

Here we are reminded of that wonderful artificial 
cave built by King Ludwig II., at an enormous cost, at 
the Linderhof ; the Empress having had constructed a 
similar cave, the entrance to which is almost covered 
with maidenhair ferns of gigantic size. On the back- 
ground of the interior large mirrors throw back a 
misty green light, and a small rivulet descends with 
its melancholy murmur. Nymphs and fauns seemed to 
have had a particular charm for the romantic and some- 
what fantastic Empress, and the park and gardens are 
dotted with statues of that class. 

Here, in this secluded paradise, the exalted lady 
spent many months of the year, accompanied by her 

iB2 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

youngest daughter, and visited at short intervals by 
the venerable Emperor. Willingly did she give up 
her days to those who loved her ; but the nights 
were her own ; and when all was still, and the moon- 
light was bathing the scenery with its hazy silver, 
the Empress could be seen wandering through the 
gardens, ascending the mountain tops, promenading the 
avenues, or standing in deep contemplation before one 
or other of her favourite statues. After the death of 
her only son, the Crown Prince Rudolf, in 1889, she 
erected to his memory a monument in one of the 
most enchanting spots of her domain, and here she 
was frequently found standing in deep thought and 
meditation, forgetful of the passing time, when the 
first rays of the rising sun threw their light upon 
the gardens. 

She was idolised by the people of the island, her 
kind, sympathetic heart often constraining her to visit 
the poor fisher-folk's homes ; and soon would her 
aflFability, her sweetness of temperament, and her charm 
of manner brighten up the poorest hut ; but never did 
she leave those whom she found in need without giving 
sufficient to at least alleviate their sufferings for some 
time to come. " The Queen of the Achilleon " she 
was called first by the inhabitants of the neighbour- 
ing villages, but later she received the appellation of 
*' The Recluse of the Achilleon." When she went 


The Empress as an Architect 185 

through the villages the people rose, and blessings 
were showered upon her, and women often would run 
to her to kiss the hem of her dress. 

In her last will and testament the late Empress 
has left the Achilleon to her elder daughter. Princess 
Gisela of Bavaria, and Lainz to the younger. Princess 







IN our own country the Empress was best known 
before her death as a great sportswoman. From 
her very first youth riding was one of her greatest 
pleasures, and well was she known in the hills and 
dales surrounding her paternal castle. After she had 
become Empress she was able fully to indulge in 
this passion, and her stables in Vienna and Godolo 
contained the finest studs to be found in Europe. It 
was she who introduced fox-hunting into Austria and 

Her Majesty herself hunted for many years in 
Hungary, making Godolo her headquarters.' Her 
figure became very famous at the celebrated meets of 
Kaposztas Magyar. It is well known that there are no 
people in Europe more accustomed to riding than the 
Hungarians, a child hardly ever reaching the age of 
four without being able to keep itself on a horse's 
back. The introduction of fox-hunting by Queen 
Elizabeth created quite a sensation, though now there 


190 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

are several packs regularly hunted by Hungarian 
noblemen. It is certain that within twenty years 
fox-hunting will be as popular in the land of the 
Magyars as it is in our own country. In fact, 
it has been even introduced in mountainous Tyrol, 
where the Sporting Club is now keeping and hunting 
a good pack. 

However, the sport never was the same as it 
is with us, and nothing therefore was more natural 
than that the Empress should have desired to come 
to England to participate in the national sport here. 
She was a thorough-going huntswoman : in Meath, 
Cheshire, and Northamptonshire she enjoyed to the 
full the excitement and pleasures of hunting. She 
first came to England twenty-one years ago, and 
hunted with the Pytchley Hounds, of which Earl 
Spencer was then the master. She took Cottesbrook 
Park in Northamptonshire for six weeks, and I 
cannot do better than quote such an expert as the 
late Mr. H. O. Nethercote as to the impression the 
Empress left behind her. 

" It was at once remarked by the large field, which 
respectfully saluted her on her first appearance with 
the Pytchleys, that her seat on horseback was 
extremely graceful, that her hands were perfect, and 
when the hounds began to run in earnest that there 
was no fence big enough to stop her." 

The Empress as a Sportswoman 191 

During her stay at Cottesbrook Park the Empress 
was present at all the best-known fixtures, riding 
three horses a day, which enabled her to hold her 
own against the best-mounted and the best-nerved. 
It was entirely through her instrumentality that the 
Hoffinghill Steeplechases, near Brixworth, were revived, 
and to the funds of that hunt-meeting she was a 
munificent subscriber. 

Whilst sojourning in the county of Meath, which 
was in the second year of her hunting-season in our 
islands (1879), ^^^ ^^^ accompanied by Prince 
Liechtenstein and piloted by the late Captain " Bay " 
Middleton. She usually rode a fine chestnut mare, 
and wore a dark blue riding-habit with gold buttons, 
a high hat, and white scarf. There was a strange 
peculiarity observable — namely, that she used to carry, 
besides the crop, a small fan in one of her hands, 
which she used after a run was over. Among the 
gentlemen in the field were Captain "Jock" Trotter, 
Earl Spencer, Lord Randolph Churchill, Lord Killeen, 
General Eraser, the Honourable H. Plunkett, the 
Honourable H. Boscawen, and the Honourable 
Henry Bourke. The Empress rode exceedingly 
well, frequently taking and keeping the lead, and 
carrying away many a brush. She had only one 
serious accident during her hunting in Ireland, and 
this was when riding The Widow, when she had 


192 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

a really big fall, but fortunately was not seriously 

The country in which the Meath Hounds met is 
the largest in the United Kingdom, stretching from 
Cabra Castle in Louth on the north, to Woodlands, 
the seat of Lord Annaly near Dublin, on the south, 
and from Lough Sheelin in West Meath to the sea- 
coast on the east. This enormous tract is nearly all 
grass, and among the finest land in Ireland. 

When Her Majesty came first to Northamptonshire 
in 1878, she brought her own stud from Hungary ; but 
soon she became greatly interested in and enamoured 
of Irish hunters. The lamented death, shortly before 
her arrival, of Charles Brindley, the popular huntsman 
of the Ward Union Stag-Hounds, had enabled the 
Empress's agent to purchase the celebrated grey mare 
which had carried Brindley so magnificently in many 
a difficult run. 

In no Irish county has fox-hunting existed so long or 
been brought so nearly to perfection as in the county 
of Meath, for which thanks are due especially to 
Mr. Samuel Reynell of Archerstown, who it was that 
studded Royal Meath with gorse coverts. He was 
succeeded as master by Mr. Waller of AUenstown; 
but after five years he gave way to the finest rider 
that Meath ever saw, Captain *' Jock " Trotter, who, 
although a Scotchman by birth, had become to all 

The Empress as a Sportswoman 193 

intents and purposes an Irishman, and was one of the 
most popular men there. 

The Empress seemed never able to express enough 

praise for the hunting in Ireland, and returned there 
the following year, and, had it not been for the political 
disturbances which at that time made Ireland the 

194 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

hotbed of outrages and agrarian crimes, she would 
no doubt have returned there every year ; as it was, 
she came again in 1880. 

She always travelled under the title of Countess of 
Hohenembs, and was attended by a large suite. She 
had procured as her hunting-box a house at Summer- 
hill, by no means a palatial home, but splendidly 
situated for the purpose for which she had hired it, 
where, it was reported, the first thing she did upon her 
arrival was to visit the stables and give a carrot to each 
of the hunters forming her stud there. So great was 
her passion for the field, that, in spite of the long and 
fatiguing journey from Vienna, she was out the very 
day following her arrival, and hunted with the Ward 

Lord Langford was at that time master of the 
Wards, and amongst those who participated in 
the sport were such well-known men as Leonard 
Morrogh, Colonel Forbes, and the Earl of Mayo. 
Captain Middleton was again the Empress's pilot ; 
and although he was perhaps the most difficult man 
to follow. Her Majesty used to do it without ever 
failing. She was one of the most straight and hard- 
riding women with hounds ; and in the first week she, 
Captain ** Bay " Middleton, and Bayzand, the personal 
attendant of the Empress, were all unseated in acci- 
dents in the field. Amongst her favourite hunters 

The Empress as a Sportswoman 195 

were Domino, Cameo, Hard Times, Doctor, and St. 
Patrick, and it was often noticed that a peculiar 
affection existed between the hunters and their imperial 

An Irish lady who frequently accompanied the 
Empress in the field writes : — 

** She was a most thoughtful and judicious rider, 
and eminently considerate for her mounts. I have 
seen her jump ofF with the lightness of a fawn when 
a check or a wait at covert side permitted, and almost 
unassisted shift her saddle slightly, always taking care 
that it was well clear of the play of the shoulders, and 
then from the pocket out would come sundry dainties, 
with which her favourites would be smilingly indulged. 

" Her hands were the smallest I ever saw, and her 
hair the longest — it fell around her like a cloak when 
unloosed ; and I think I may add my own testimony 
that the heart which the dread assassin pierced was one 
of the kindest that ever beat in human breast. 

" Arrived at the meet, we were told that the Empress 
had already come, and had gone to put on her habit 
at the neighbouring house ; so there was time to leave 
the carriage and go about greeting friends. I remember 
that Lord Combermere was there, and Sir Philip 
Egerton, and the veteran sportsman Mr. Nathaniel 

** It was frequently after eleven o'clock when the 

19^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Empress came upon the scene, riding a good-looking 
bay mare ; and with her was Lady Rocksavage, whose 
mount was a dappled grey. Her Majesty on this 
occasion wore a silk hat, rather low in the crown, and 
a dark blue habit, with a collar of sable fur ; her gloves 
were of strong tan leather. 

" She always was riding a level-seat saddle, cut away 
at the withers and neatly flapped over ; and in the 
pouch at the side were sundry bits of biscuit and 
lump sugar, with which she occasionally fed her 

The last run the Empress enjoyed in Ireland was 
on the back of St. Patrick, and she often deplored 
her inability to hunt again in that paradise of fox- 
hunting. She came to Ireland without any pretensions 
of State, and her master of horse was Prince 
Liechtenstein, a smart, wiry, good-looking Austrian, 
not young, but well preserved, his small pointed beard 
just showing a tinge of grey, and his keen, deep-set 
eyes a few wrinkles at the corners. He was a brisk 
and fearless horseman, was a pleasant conversationalist, 
and spoke English perfectly. The Empress seemed 
very nervous about her debut in Irish fields, and tried 
her best to avoid the crowd of gazers whidi always 
collected in the grounds of her hunting-box. 

Another lady who also frequently had the pleasure 
of hunting with Her Majesty says : — 

The Empress as a Sportswoman 

" The Empress had an exquisite figure, and her 
riding-dress was the admiration of every field which 
she graced whilst visiting in Ireland. So closely did 
her well-cut skirt cling to her form th*^ it was a 

19^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

common saying among ladies that she must be * sewn 
into it,' and that they did not believe she could 
dismount ; while her jackets, of absolutely perfect 
build, were fitted to a twenty-inch waist of exquisite 
and natural rounding. She either wore a high silk 
hat or a small Tyrolese hat of pliable felt, dented 
slightly in the centre of the crown and furnished 
with one little up-standing wing. I never saw her 
wear a flower or a neck-bow, or a pocket-handkerchief 
protruding from the front of her bodice. Her dress 
was simplicity itself, and its only noticeable adjunct 
was a black-and-yellow fan, very light and portable, 
and about as plain as it was possible for it to 
be. This was carried either in her hand or in a 
little slip strap in front of her saddle, and it always 
came out at covert side, and very frequently when 
trotting along the roadway. ' Afraid of her com- 
plexion,' the Irish ladies said ; but it was not so at 
all ; no one ever guessed the wherefore of it, and 
this is my own very first mention of the matter. 
She had an absolute dread of the itinerant photo- 
grapher and of the sketcher, ever on the watch to 
snatch impressions of her truly lovely face." 

She paid a short private visit to Ireland two or 
three years ago, her time being almost entirely spent 
in the West. She was always mindful of the poor 
people; in the district where she stayed, and her acts 


The Empress as a Sportswoman 199 

of benevolence are fondly remembered in many a 
lowly cottage in Meath and Kildare. 

As an instance of the indomitable pluck of the 
late Elizabeth of Austria I may give the following 
incident, which occurred during her stay in Meath. 

After a long run the hard-pressed fox jumped over 
the wall of Maynooth College, and rushed across the 
exercise ground where the students were pacing to 
and fro, evidently absorbed in pious contemplation 
(Maynooth College is an institution for the preparation 
and study of the Roman Catholic priesthood). The 
sight of a fox in the grounds roused the sporting 
instincts of the young clericals, inherent in most 
Irishmen, and they were on the point of giving chase 
when the wall was again cleared, this time by a 
beautiful woman on a spirited horse : it was the 
Empress of Austria, who had followed the fox through 
thick and thin, and evidently through water as well, 
as the dripping state of her habit testified. 

Dr. Walsh, now Roman Catholic Archbishop of 
Dublin, and then the head master of Maynooth, 
received the imperial hunts woman with due courtesy, 
and, observing the danger which she ran of getting 
chilled in her wet clothes, suggested a wrap. Her 
Majesty willingly accepted the ofFer. But now arose 
a difficulty: there were no feminine habiliments to 
b^ found in that training establishment for young 

2CX) Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

priests, and she had to make use of Dr. Walsh's 
academic gown, which she laughingly threw over 
her shoulders, and, after having partaken of refresh- 
ments with the president and professors, rode home. 
The Empress seemed so pleased with that accidental 
visit and the hospitality shown to her by the reverend 
gentleman, that shortly after she came again on a 
longer visit to Maynooth, and there, as elsewhere, 
charmed all by her grace and affability. 

On that occasion she presented Dr. Walsh with a 
beautiful diamond ring, and after she had returned to 
her home in Austria she sent the college a fine 
statuette in solid silver of St. George and the Dragon, 
and also a suit of vestments richly wrought of silk and 
gold, and covered all over with shamrocks worked in 
green silk. 

She certainly made many women friends in Ireland ; 
and it is a strange coincidence that in a letter to 
an Irish lady, written only a few months ago, she 
alluded to her sister's awful death at the bazaar fire in 
Paris, and remarked that she felt a presentiment that 
some tragedy was in store for herself. 

Her Majesty's last hunting season in this country 
was in 1881, when she rented Combermere Abbey in 
Cheshire for two months, from the i8th of February. 
She entrusted at that time an Irish horse-dealer with 
the task of buying hunters for her; and when she 

The Empress as a Sportswoman 201 

arrived at Combermere Abbey she found a superb stock 
of Irish horses awaiting her, with her principal hunting- 
groom, an Irishman of the name of Tom Healy, in 

Combermere Abbey, Lord Combermere's seat in 
Cheshire, has long been tenanted by famous sportsmen, 
and is a good specimen of a nobleman's country seat in 
the North of England. No better choice could have 
been made, since from there it is feasible to easily reach 
both the Cheshire packs, Sir Watkin Wynn's, the 
North Staffordshire, and the Shropshire. As usual 
the Empress's hunting-stud comprised about thirty 
horses. Her pilot here was Colonel Charles Rivers 
Bulkeley, who, in addition to being a brilliant horseman, 
knew the whole country well, and proved himself an 
admirable guide. One of the finest runs in which she 
participated was from the Bache House covert to the 
hills, in which even the magnificent horse upon which 
she was mounted proved none too fast. 

With reference to her horses, hardly one of which 
ever put a foot wrong, they were trained until it was 
almost a wonder that they were not sick of jumping 
and declined to face a fence at all. There was a special 
etiquette observed when the Empress was one of the 
field — namely, that no one should ride in front of her 
or her pilot ; and even if, owing to a turn made by the 
hounds, Her Majesty and her leader were not at that 

202 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

moment in front, those who were, were expected to 
fall out of the way ; while it was also customary for 
Lord Spencer, Captain Parke Yates, Mr. Corbet, or 
any man with whom the Empress might be hunting, to 
approach the imperial visitor hat in hand, and ask 
whether it was Her Majesty's pleasure that the hounds 
should draw again. 

Amongst her horses were Florae, Timon, and 
Ashtown. She generally consulted, when buying 
horses, Mr. Edward Macdonald of Ashtowngate, and 
Mr. Allen McDonogh, then of Athgarvan Lodge, 
Curragh, who ranked at the time among the best 
judges of horse-flesh and the Very best horsemen of 
the day. They are both dead now, as is also 
Captain Middleton, who was killed while riding in a 

The Empress's liberality was generally remarked 
upon ; she made presents with great freedom, even the 
station-masters on the smallest wayside stations through 
which she passed were remembered and surprised by 
the receipt of a pin, ring, or some other present of 
value. At the close of a season, and as a token of the 
great pleasure afforded her, the Empress gave a prize, 
to be competed for by Northamptonshire farmers ; and 
when the prize had been won, Her Majesty gave a 
luncheon party, at which the Prince and Princess of 
Wales, th^ late Duchess of Teck, Earl and Counters 

The Empress as a Sportswoman 205 

Spencer, and many others were present. Her gracious- 
ness and affability were most marked ; and her grooms 
and stablemen, for the most part Irish, absolutely 
worshipped her. She proved to be a practical horse- 
woman, and likewise a humane one. 

At the end of her first season in Northamptonshire, 
the Archduke Rudolf, Crown Prince of the Austrian 
Empire, came on a visit to England, Scotland, and 
Ireland, enjoying the field sports of the country. He 
was, in company with the Prince of Wales and Prince 
Louis Napoleon, a guest of the late Duke of Hamilton 
at Hamilton Palace in Lanarkshire. The purpose of 
his visit was to bring his mother home to Austria. 

The Empress was obliged, on account of failing 
health, to give up riding in 1882, and she felt the 
deprivation very much. She took up fencing, in which 
graceful art she became very proficient ; she also tried 
her hand at fishing, but that sport proved too slow 
for her active and restless temperament. She was 
an intrepid mountain climber, and a strong and skilful 
swimmer. One of her great pleasures was moun- 
taineering ; and up to the very end of her life she was 
accustomed to take long walks, frequently tiring her 
cavaliers and ladies without feeling fatigued herself. 
Her Majesty's hunting establishment in her own 
country was at the Castle of Godolo, near Buda-Pesth 
in Hungary. There she kept a fine stud and a pack 

The Empress as a Sportswoman 207 

She loved the ocean ; the stormier it was, the higher 
the winds and waves, the better pleased Elizabeth 
appeared to be. She generally remained with the 
captain on the bridge during the severest gales, and 
no remonstrances against her exposing herself to danger 
were of avail. She only shook her head, and bade 
her attendant go down into the cabin ; but she herself 
kept to the bridge as long as the gale lasted. 

The Miramare is a paddle steamer of an old design ; 
but her lines are greatly admired by experts and yachting 
people, and all her appliances are of the most modern 
style, the saloons and cabins being furnished according 
to Her Majesty's own suggestions. The yacht is very 
swift and graceful, and has accommodation for a large 
retinue ; on the deck arrangements were made to 
enable the Empress to indulge in her pleasure of 
walking exercise. 



209 14 



" We change the surroundings, but a heart bleeds under all social 
variations." — George Moore. 

ALTHOUGH the area over which the Empress 
Elizabeth travelled appears limited in com- 
parison with the known extent of the world, and in 
consideration of the facilities now offered to wander 
through it, she at least thoroughly saw and knew the 
different lands which she visited. 

Soon after her marriage she accompanied her hus- 
band on an extended tour through the various provinces 
of the Austrian Empire and through Hungary. In 
September 1856 she visited the magnificent mountain 
fastnesses of the Alpine countries, Styria and the Tyrol ; 
and on this occasion she climbed the highest mountain to 
be found in the Alps, the Grossglockner. The excursion 
was made from Heiligenblut, where their Majesties had 
been staying at the rectory. At four o'clock in the 
morning they were present at Mass, and knelt devoutly 
before the altar, the Emperor in the national Tyrolese 


212 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

costume, his spouse in a short woollen skirt, shirt, and 
light jacket. 

Accompanied by a few experienced guides, they 
commenced the ascent, the Empress and the majority 
of the suite on horseback, the Emperor always on foot, 
in order to lose no point of vantage. When they 
were about six thousand feet high, the Emperor 
plucked a most beautiful Edelweiss near a rocky preci- 
pice, and handed it to his wife with these words : 
" This is the first time in my life that I have plucked 
the Edelweiss myself." The Empress enjoyed the 
magnificent and far-extended view with almost 
child-like pleasure. How small appeared to her the 
mountains around Possenhofen which she knew so 
well, and how grand was this enormous pile of rock 
on the top of which she now stood, looking down upon 
the low-lying towns, villages, lakes, and mountain 
scenery ! A hut which is built near the top of the 
peak for the convenience of mountaineers has been 
named in memory of the ascent by the Empress, 
'* Elizabeth's Rest " ; and the highest peak of all, 
which the Emperor alone ascended, has since then 
been given the name of " Francis Joseph's Height.'* 
The party returned to Heiligenblut at one o'clock. 
Up to the time of her death the Empress took pleasure 
in referring to this excursion of her youth. 

After this the Empress travelled to Marburg and 

The Empress as a Traveller 


Graz ; hence they undertook a journey to Venice and 
Milan, where their reception was so hearty and spon- 
taneous that the Emperor exclaimed, " This wipes out 

the memories of 1848 ! " and, turning to his wife, said, 
" Your charms have done more to win these people 
than all the bayonets and cannon of my armies." 
Again they undertook a journey through Hungary, 
which lasted fully four months. Unfortunately the 

214 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

health of the Empress sufFered at that time, and it 
was decided in i860 that she should go to Madeira 
and spend a winter there. Queen Victoria offered to 
lend her one of the royal yachts, the Empress not 
possessing one at that time, and Elizabeth made her 
first journey to Madeira on board the Victoria and 
Albert. The warm climate of the South soon restored 
her health, and she returned on the 24th of May, 1861, 
quite well and strong ; but in June of the same year 
she had a relapse, and therefore left Vienna on the 
20th of that month, and sojourned at Miramare, near 
Trieste, whence she went to Corfu, where she stayed 
for some time. She returned via Venice, went to 
Reichenau, and from* there to Kissingen, where she 
remained until the end of August 1862. 

I have already mentioned that she made Corfu her 
home for some months during every year, and from 
that place she made various excursions in her yacht, 
the Miramare. In 1880 she undertook a more 
extended journey to the Orient, and remained for 
some time at Zante. Jt is told that, when on a 
pedestrian expedition to a villa which was not far from 
that town, she met an old peasant woman, who was 
the caretaker of the mansion, and was living in a 
small, poorly furnished hut near by. The Empress 
entered the humble abode, to the great surprise of 
the old woman, who told Her Majesty that she was 

The Empress as a Traveller 215 

sorry she could not show her over the villa, as the 
owners were absent and had taken away the keys, but 

she begged that the lady would accept a glass of fresh 
water from the sparkling spring of the neighbourhood. 
The Empress accepted with thanks. When she had 

21 6 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

entered the hut, she noticed a poor crippled boy — the 
only living being the peasant woman had to bestow her 
love and care upon — endeavouring to leave the only 
room in the cottage for the open air ; his position 
touched Her Majesty's sympathy, and she immediately 
gave the woman a princely present of money, in order 
that she might be able to take better care of the child. 
When the poor mother saw the gold pieces, she must 
have guessed who her visitor was, for she fell upon 
her knees and kissed the hem of her dress, overcome 
by gratitude and joy. The companions of Her 
Majesty, who had been witnesses of this deed of 
kindness, were deeply touched by the pathetic scene 
enacted before them. 

During this journey she also visited Troja ; and it 
may be remarked here that the Empress was the first 
European sovereign who did not mind the difficulties 
and fatigue which had to be endured in order to visit 
this historically celebrated spot. On that occasion 
some of the Turkish guards who accompanied the 
caravan were about to shoot some of the wild geese 
which were found there in large quantities, thinking 
that the sport would give Her Majesty pleasure ; but 
she forbade them ; she did not approve of such cruelty, 
and opposed the wanton killing of harmless animals 
merely for the sake of personal gratification. 

In 1887 the Empress visited England. She stayed 


The Empress as a Traveller 217 

for some time in the Isle of Wight, having taken 
Steephill Castle, and afterwards in Norfolk. Her 



■ » 


•-•-'- ^.<-^T 

repeated visits to England and Ireland in 1879-82 
I have touched upon in another chapter. 

Very frequent were her tours through Bavaria and 



21 9 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

various parts of the Salzkammergut, and her favourite 
spots for sojourning at were Feldafing in Bavaria, 
Wiesbaden, Kissingen, and Ischl, where she held Court 
for many years during the summer months, and whence 
she ascended the renowned mountain of that neigh- 
bourhood, called " Schafberg." All these places, 
however, she visited more rarely every year, and even 
at the imperial castles she only remained a short time. 

During the last few years of her life she visited 
Biarritz and the Riviera very frequently, always travel- 
ling under the name of the Countess of Hohenembs, 
an incognito which was generally respected by the 
people with whom she came into contact. When at 
Cap Martin she rose at a time when nobody stirred at 
the hotel, when the birds in the trees and bushes round 
the hostelry commenced to sing their morning songs, 
when the sun had hardly begun to kiss the blue ocean 
out of its nightly slumber. She used to leave the hotel 
accompanied only by a lady-in-waiting, to make a long 
tour on foot in the neighbouring mountains, from which 
she hardly ever returned before noon to her breakfast. 

One morning, only two years ago, while staying 
at this place, she surprised the visitors at Monte 
Carlo by appearing amongst them in pedestrian attire, 
attended by a lady-in-waiting and a chamberlain : 
upon her return to her hotel at Cap Martin for 
breakfast, she had walked a distance of sixteen miles ! 

The Empress as a Traveller 219 

She was always dressed in simple black, with a large 
dark straw hat upon her head, a sunshade and a fan in 
her hands. Her romantic and poetic nature enabled 
her to see in every small flower a rich treasure of 
beauty. The Empress Elizabeth was essentially a 

lover of nature, and found both joy and grief in 
the contemplation of her charming surroundings. She 
loved to rest at great heights, dreaming, meditating, and 
trying to forget the woe which was gnawing at her 
heart. Here she loved especially to read her favourite 
poets, and here she felt in close communion with them. 


y / 

1^0 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

For some time she was accompanied on her mountain 
expeditions by the little Archduchess Valerie, and her 
sister, the Countess of Trani. 

In 1883 she resided for sometime in Baden-Baden, 
and in the same year she came to Styria for the autumn. 
Here it was that she almost lost her life by an 
accident during one of her excursions. She was riding 
over a wooden bridge which spanned a deep ravine, 
called " The Dead Woman " ; she had got half-way 
across, when the horse stumbled, both forelegs slipping 
through a hole in the bridge. The situation was 
a most dangerous one, but eventually the Empress 
succeeded in jumping off her horse, pulling it out, 
and regaining her saddle once more. 

It certainly seemed that, ever after her great grief 
in 1889, the Empress was possessed almost of a mania 
to rush from place to place, getting tired of one as soon 
as she had settled there, and ever seeking fresh scenes : 
at one time it was her palace in Corfu, then some 
watering-place in Germany, a large hotel on the Riviera, 
a lonely chateau, and again a crowded hostelry, in 
Switzerland. She was a familiar figure in nearly every 
one of those Baths in the centre of Europe in 
which women especially seek relief and deliverance from 
the miseries of diseased bodies and diseased minds. 
Kreuznach, a beautiful little town in a valley only 
half an hour's railway journey from Bingen-on-the- 


The Empress as a Traveller 221 

Rhine, is a favourite place for women, and is supposed 
to alleviate their manifold troubles. This resort was 

visited by the Empress, and her habits there were as 
pecuhar as elsewhere. She would get up about four 
o'clock in the morning, and by six had completed that 
two hours' walk before breakfast which is part of the 



222 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

cure. Early as the people of Kreuznach were, there 
was nobody about at that hour in the morning. The 
next walk was between nine and eleven — again a time 
when few were about, as most of the patients were 
then either at their breakfasts or in their baths. 

The Empress did not care to be seen by anybody ; 
she shrank from the vulgar and embarrassing stare to 
which royalty is generally subjected. 

At Territet in Switzerland, which was also a favourite 
resort, she followed similar habits ; there she used to 
take her bath punctually at five o'clock every morning ; 
then she sat on the terrace until eight o'clock, when 
she was served with a breakfast of iced milk and 
biscuits ; and during the rest of the day she would roam 
about, dressed in black, with short sleeves, a short 
skirt, and tan boots. She hardly ever wore gloves, and 
when passing any one she invariably covered her face 
with a fan. On returning to her apartments, which 
were extremely simple, she would respond to the 
respectful salutes of her suite with a gentle wave of 
her hand. She always retired to rest very early. At 
Kissingen in Bavaria, where she stayed as late as April 
of this year (1898.) — a time before the season had 
begun, and when therefore few |:)eople were about — 
she walked a good deal, usually alone, and sometimes 
she would even enter the shops and buy a great many 
articles that attracted her fancy ; generally, however, 

The Empress as a Traveller 225 

she allowed this to be done by her ladies-in-waiting. 
Some people who saw her then state that there were 
still traces of the dazzling beauty of countenance 
which she once possessed, and that she preserved much 
of the unquestionable grace of her figure. 

Of late years she travelled with only two ladies-in- 
waiting and one chamberlain in attendance, and her 
suite was therefore very limited. 

During this year (i 898) she had accidentally seen some 
photographs of the Dolomite region in the Tyrol, and 
was informed that an hotel had been built in those 
mountain fastnesses near the Karer See, right under 
the hill of the *' Rosen Garten," not far from the 
Rothwand. This renowned district receives its name 
from the enormous quantity of rhododendrons which 
grow there, and also from the lovely pink colour of 
the mountains, which seem to glow into a fiery red at 
the rising and setting of the sun. It was soon after 
Her Majesty had become acquainted with this region 
that she made her appearance at the Karer See Hotel, 
and occupied rooms there for some weeks, making 
extensive excursions in all directions ; and there are few 
peaks in the neighbourhood which the Empress did 
not ascend. 

She seemed on all her journeys to be at war with the 
police authorities, as it was most uncongenial to her to 
be watched and guarded by detectives, and she would 


226 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

frequently go so far as to give false information as to 
her intended journeys. 

Paris the Empress visited frequently, but never in an 
official manner. She was expected to go there in state 
during the time of the Empire, shortly after the famous 
interview between Napoleon III. and the Emperor 
Francis Joseph and herself and Eugenie in 1869; Y^^ 
for some reason or other she did not do so. Eut the 
imperial lady often came to Paris in a quiet, unostenta- 
tious manner, and usually took many rides in the Bois 
de Boulogne, and did extensive shopping in the Rue de 
la Paix or on the Boulevards. 

Early in 1898, before starting for her villa at Cap 
Martin, she stayed in Paris in the Hotel Dominici 
with the Countess of Trani. This was for the purpose 
of being able to visit the sinister spot in the Rue 
Jean-Goujon, where her youngest sister, the Duchesse 
d'Alen^on, perished in the flames at the Charity Bazaar. 
Later on she intended to go to M. Morot's studio, 
in order to see the portrait of the Duchesse, but a 
violent attack of neuralgia obliged her to hasten her 
departure for the South. 

The Empress of Austria was well known at 
Amsterdam and The Hague, where she was considered 
somewhat eccentric. She was accustomed to walk 
about the capital alone and unattended. Once, as she 
was promenading with a large yellow fan before her 

i. w^m 











The Empress as a Traveller 229 

face, a jocular passer-by snatched away her fan and 
cried, "Come, let us look at your face." Much 
diplomatic commotion resulted from this incident. 

Favourite journeys of Her Majesty were those to 
Greece and Northern Africa and the Adriatic Littoral, 
where she was generally accompanied by her youngest 

During her sojourn at Algiers she paid a visit to 
the old capital of Tlemczen and made many excur- 
sions to Staiieli, the great Trappist establishment, and 
watched with the greatest interest the making of scent 
from rose geraniums, with which the monks are 
principally occupied. Here again she left a large 
money present for the benefit of the institution, having 
ascertained that many of the poor of the neighbour- 
hood are fed and taken care of there. But it was 
not only in foreign lands that she enjoyed these long 
excursions ; both at Vienna and at Buda-Pesth she 
used daily to drive out for some miles, and then leave 
her carriage and walk along lonesome wood-paths ; 
and the |:)eople who met her had no idea that this 
slim figure in black, walking so unostentatiously, 
accompanied only by one lady, was their Empress. 

The neighbourhood of Buda-Pesth has hardly a 
spot where the Hungarian Queen has not been. In 
October 1897 she spent a few weeks there attended 
by Fraulein von Kerenczij, her reader, and visited 

230 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

the celebrated grave of Gul Babas, the Mohammedan 
saint. Architect Wagner, the owner of the adjacent 
villa, accompanied the Empress, and explained to her 
the various remarkable points of the tomb. Indeed, 
there was nothing which would not awaken the interest 
of this traveller. 

It was a strange feature in her character that she 
loved to be alone, and would even prefer to dispense 
with her lady-in-waiting and chamberlain. Only 
two years ago, when sojourning in Biarritz, she gave 
no little trouble to the Spanish Government by her 
frequent long excursions on foot across the French 
frontier without any male companions, as special 
precautions had to be taken for her safety, brigands 
not having yet entirely disappeared from that 

The difficulties of those who were told ofF for 
her protection were by no means insignificant. For 
instance, the Empress Elizabeth, when in Paris, would 
often rise before five o'clock in the morning, and 
start for the Bois de Boulogne or elsewhere on foot 
or on horseback, and the detectives, who had been 
on duty around her temporary domicile all night, 
were compelled to follow as fast as they could. One 
of the police commissaries who looked after the 
Empress at Vichy states that, whilst she was kind- 
ness and amiability personified, she was incredibly 


The Empress as a Traveller 233 

imprudent, and often rather querulous about the 
measures taken for her security, in spite of the utmost 
tact and discretion on the part of those directed to 
watch over her. 

One day the Empress, while climbing the hills 
round Mentone, was suddenly frightened by the hang- 
dog appearance of a long-haired shepherd, and she 
was then rather glad to find herself protected. How- 
ever, she very soon forgot this incident, and again 
asked for the suspension of all supervision. The 
detective, in reply to this request, explained that he 
was obliged to do his duty, and that he was moreover 
on the look-out for a suspicious character from the 
Danubian principalities, who was expected to arrive 
in the neighbourhood at the same time as the 
Emperor Francis Joseph ; so at last she acquiesced in 
the arrangements. 

In the Tyrol she took up her abode principally in 
Meran, where she was joined by other members of the 
imperial family, and where also her brother the Duke 
Charles Theodore with his family owns a villa, which 
they occupy during the winter months. There the 
guide Buchensteiner won the special confidence of 
the Empress, not so much on account of his thorough 
acquaintance with the mountains, as because he under- 
stood her so well, and knew how to keep back the 
Curious crowds who were anxious to see her. 


234 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

In 1889, in spite of the unfavourable weather, she 
made some long excursions, and showed herself on these 
occasions a splendid pedestrian. Even in climbing 
the steepest hills upon bad roads she did not show any 
fatigue ; in fact, it was sometimes difficult for her suite to 
follow her ; and it was on that account perhaps that she 
undertook a great many expeditions lasting the whole 
day accompanied only by Buchensteiner, who used to 
carry a satchel containing some dainties and some milk, 
which would comprise Her Majesty's luncheon. This 
guide knew all the best spots from which fine views 
could be obtained, and there the imperial lady used to 
take a seat upon a stone or a stump of a tree, and 
look out on the beautiful scenery for hours and hours 
without one word being spoken. 

I had occasion a short time ago to have a con- 
versation with Buchensteiner, who said most charac- 
teristically : " When I take persons up in these 
mountains, I often marvel what they want up here ; 
they do not seem to care for the view, they do not 
love the flowers or take any interest in anything — ^all 
they want is to be able to say they have been on the 
top of that peak. How different it is with the Empress ; 
she overlooks nothing, — every stone, the most in- 
significant plant or flower, she observes ; the most 
common bird, even a butterfly, seems to aflFord her 
pleasure ; and when she comes to a spot whence she 

The Empress as a Traveller 235 

can look upon the beautiful expanse of scenery below, 
I have seen tears in her eyes, and a saintly look 
come over her as she gazed toward the blue sky, as 
if she were thanking her Creator for having accorded 
her this happiness." 

When the Empress was at Meran last autumn 
(1897), and had taken rooms at the Hotel Kaiserhof, 
Buchensteiner was immediately commanded to wait 
upon her. 

Here is an episode which may find a place in this 
chapter. The Empress Elizabeth had expressed a wish 
to arrive at Meran entirely incognito. However, her 
arrival, in spite of precautions, had become known on 
the same day. To the many enquirers at the hotel as 
to what time she would arrive it was answered, '*At 
seven o'clock in the evening." An enormous mass of 
people crowded the approaches to the railway station 
and the Hotel Kaiserhof at that time, when a lady, in 
simple black dress, with a stick in her hand, walked 
unobserved along the street, and entered the hotel from 
a side door ; it was the Empress, who had arrived many 
hours before, and had just returned from a mountain 
excursion of which not a soul knew anything. How- 
ever, the wish of Her Majesty to be left alone was fully 
respected by the natives, and it was only the foreigners 
who, without any consideration, almost mobbed her 
when she went out in the daytime. 

236 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

On the 2nd of November, 1897, the Empress 
visited the tomb of the Habsburgs at the Church of the 
Capuchins in Vienna, and prayed for some time beside 
the coffin of her never-to-be-forgotten son, the late 
Crown Prince Rudolf; and shortly afterwards she left 
the capital for Biarritz, where she remained until the 
1 8th of December, 1897 ; and then went for a sojourn 
of some days to Paris, where she underwent a course 
of massage on account of slight rheumatism in one of 
her feet. She spent Christmas in the French capital, 
and was seen on various occasions walking along the 
gay Boulevards with her sister. On the 29th of 
December she arrived at Marseilles, where her yacht 
the Miramare awaited her, and in company with the 
Countess Trani she sailed for San Remo. There she 
remained with her sister up to the ist of March, 1898, 
and then went to Turin, where she again remained 
for a couple of days, and thence to Territet. On the 
1 8th of April Her Majesty went to Kissingen, where 
the Emperor visited her on the 25th of the same month, 
coming from Dresden, where he had been the guest 
of King Albert of Saxony for the celebration of that 
personage's seventieth birthday. The Empress remained 
at Kissingen until the 8th of May, and journeyed thence 
to Brvickenau, to drink the waters. Her sojourn there 
lasted a month. 

On the 13th of June she returned to Vienna, and was 

The Empress as a Traveller 239 

there received by her husband at the railway station, with 
whom she drove to her private castle of Lainz, where 
she remained until the 2nd of July, on which day she 
journeyed with the Emperor to IschI, accompanied by 
^her daughter Marie Valerie and her husband and 
children. It was also on that day that it was officially 
made known that the health of the Empress was such 
as to give cause for serious uneasiness, and that it would 
be necessary for her to spend the following winter in 
a southern climate. The official notice stated that the 
Empress was suffering from anaemia, nervousness, and 
insomnia, and that the diagnosis had shown a slight 
enlargement of the heart. Her physicians had advised 
^ler to go to Bad Nauheim ; and on the i6th of 
July, accompanied by her lady-in-waiting the Countess 
Sztaray and her personal medical attendant Dr. Kerzl, 
she arrived at that watering-place in Hesse, and took 
apartments at the Villa Kracht, placing herself under 
Dr. Theodore Schott, of whom I have already spoken. 
Her recovery was most remarkable, due partly no 
doubt to the fact that the visitors fully respected the 
Empress's desire for quietness and solitude. 

On the 2nd of August she received the Empress 
Frederick, who came from Kronberg, and the inter- 
view lasted for more than half an hour, during 
which the most animated conversation was sustained. 
On the 23 rd of August she met the Emperor 

240 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

William II. and his wife ; and besides these the young 
Grand Duke of Hesse, and his charming spouse, the 
grand-daughter of our Queen; paid their respects to 

So much better did Her Majesty feel, that there 
remained little doubt that her full recovery was assured, 
and that it would only be a question of time. She 
was advised to spend some time in mountain air 
in order to recoup her strength, and it was on this 
account that she went to Switzerland and returned 
to Territet, where she had already spent March and 
April. She arrived at that beautiful mountain resort 
on the 29th of August, and stayed at the Hotel Caux, 
near Glion. Here she intended to remain for some 
weeks before returning to join her husband in Vienna, 
during the festivities which were in preparation for 
the Jubilee of his reign. She had just returned from a 
visit to the Baroness Rothschild at her charming villa, 
and was on her way back from Geneva to Caux, when 
she was assassinated. 

Dr. Christomanos, formerly reader to the late 
Empress, speaking of her many journeys, tells us 
of the following remarks she made to him some time 
ago : "I prefer travelling in the night, as then the 
illusion is greater — otherwise one must struggle with 
the hours before one reaches one's goal.'' When he 
once observed to his imperial mistress that it is said 

The Empress as a Traveller 243 

monarchs do not know the value of money, the 
Empress Elizabeth replied that she valued money as 
only, in her eyes, it should be valued — viz. according 
to the intensity of the wishes it gratified. "All 
things," she said, ** should be paid for according to 
their worth to us individually. There is nothing 
of absolute value around us. I would give more 
for a book that I wanted and for a flower high 
up in a hedge than for a house or a journey in 

Whilst in a Kabyle village the Empress saw a white 
figure suddenly appear out of the darkness. It followed 
her, dodging about behind trunks of trees. " I 
recommended Her Majesty to return," says Dr. 
Christomanos. " She refused, saying, * No ! the Arab 
would think we feared him. We might give him 
in this way bad thoughts. One should never stand 
in the way of one's destiny.' The same instant the 
Kabyle stood before us, his manner being very 
threatening. The Empress did not for one moment 
lose her presence of mind. She said, * That is a 
madman. We must hasten away ; such people are 
more dangerous than criminals." 

On travelling through Venice the Empress remarked 
sadly, ** The Emperor still speaks good Italian ; that 
is all that is left of our kingdom — more than we need. 
I was also obliged to learn Italian, but I could not 

244 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

reconcile myself to this tongue, and all the trouble 
would have been thrown away." 

Her Majesty travelled generally with a very limited 
suite, and had an allowance of about ^5,000 per month 
for the purpose. After what has been said it is not 
difficult to judge how much of this sum went into the 
pockets of the needy. 








CONSIDERING the very extraordinary behaviour 
of the late Bavarian King Ludwig II. towards 
the lady to whom he was betrothed, and who was 
the youngest sister of the Empress Elizabeth, it strikes 
one as strange to find that an almost romantic friend- 
ship existed between him and the consort of Francis 
Joseph, which lasted to the very days which preceded 
the King's deposition and his tragic suicide. 

The engagement of Princess Sophie of Bavaria with 
the King was popular, the more so because it was well 
known that the couple loved each other, and that 
the affair was not the outcome of diplomatic or 
political negotiations — the marriage would be a love 
match pure and simple. The sudden breaking off* 
of the engagement without an explanation or even 
an apology ended the friendship existing between the 
parents of his intended bride and the King ; but how- 
ever strained the relations between them, it did not 


^4^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

prevent the Empress Elizabeth from maintaining the 
most intimate friendship with the King, which was 
quite characteristic of her, as she never allowed her- 
self to be guided by circumstances, and always acted 
upon her feelings, regardless of what others thought. 
That a relationship between such a poetry-loving 
sovereign as the King of Bavaria and an idealist like 
the Empress should have been most romantic seems 
but natural. 

There is almost in the middle of the Lake of 
Starenberg, on the shores of which Possenhofen and 
the Castle of Berg are situated, an island, which, from 
the magnificent rose gardens which a former king had 
planted thereon, has received the name of " Rosen- 
Insel " (Isle of Roses). The island is reputed to have 
possessed in the most ancient times a heathen temple, 
which was later on converted into a Catholic chapel, 
and even at the present time Roman coins, vessels, 
and ornaments are found there. The gardens, which 
were first laid out by King Max, were greatly beautified 
by his son Ludwig II., whose love for all that was 
beautiful is so well known. It is said that there 
were sixteen thousand plants of this queen of flowers, 
and the scent was so strong that it could be perceived 
miles out on the lake. In the midst of these labyrinths 
of roses there stood a villa, called " Die Ermitage," the 
only dwelling on the islet, with the exception of a 

The Empress and Ludwig; II. of Bavaria 249 

small cottage for the gardener's use. High hedges, 
formed of trees and bushes, surrounded the whole 
island so thoroughly that it was impossible to get even 

a glimpse of the gardens when passing in the boats ; 
it was almost impossible to perceive the small jetty, 
built for the landing of the King from his steam 
yacht Tristan. 

250 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

In this small villa, built in the Italian style, which 
comprised only a very few rooms, Ludwig II. spent 
some of his most happy and quiet days ; here he 
collected his favourite poets, and here he dreamt and 
meditated, and here he had his special rendezvous 
with the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, who, when on 
her yearly visit to her parents' Castle of Possenhofen, 
would meet the youthful monarch, and together they 
would indulge themselves undisturbed in conversation 
congenial to their tastes. From the upper storey of 
the building one of the finest of views can be obtained 
over the deep blue lake and the purple mountains 
which stretch as far as the eye can reach. To 
describe the gardens themselves would be almost an 
impossibility : the endeavours of two kings resulted 
in a collection of the finest specimens of roses known 
to the world ; and their rich colours — white, yellow, 
and all shades of red, from the lightest pink to the 
darkest crimson — formed a lovely relief after the pure 
blue of the waters. 

In the last year of his life King Ludwig visited 
the island rarely, and only when he knew that the 
Empress was staying at Possenhofen. It was so 
arranged that the two exalted personages should come 
to the islet at a given hour ; but if anything happened 
to prevent their meeting, the one who had arrived 
would write a letter and place the same in a special 

The Empress and Ludwig IL of Bavaria 251 

drawer of a writing-table of which only their two 
Majesties had keys, and so they were able without the 
intervention of a third person to communicate with each 
other when a personal interview was impracticable. 

After the death of Ludwig II. the villa upon the 
Isle of Roses was visited by the commissioner who 
had charge of the affairs of the departed monarch, 
and in the writing-table in question there was still 
found a letter, which had the following address : 
"The Dove to the Eagle." It transpired that these 
were the appellations used in their romantic intercourse, 
the Empress being the Dove and the King the Eagle. 

Even at a time when Ludwig would not suffer a 
single soul to be near him, when his passion for soli- 
tude had almost become a mental disease, he was ever 
ready to receive his cousin^ and was happy to spend 
some time with her in conversation. There existed 
without doubt a great affinity between them, and it was 
often remarked that no one but the Empress appeared 
to understand the fantastic King, and the similarity 
of their ideas, tastes, and pleasures was strongly and 
frequently in evidence. How much the imperial lady 
sympathised with the unfortunate King, how deeply 
she felt his deposition and his tragic end, can only 
be conjectured ; but the fact that she retired imme- 
diately upon hearing of the catastrophe to one of her 
castles, in order to be able to give herself up completely 

252 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

to the grief which the tragedy had caused her, says 
much. For may weeks she mourned in solitude at 
the Achilleon. 

The intimate and friendly relationship between 
the two was openly recognised at the lying in 
state of King Ludwig at the royal residence in 
Munich. Surrounded by the pomp displayed on such 
occasions by the Roman Church, combined with that 
prescribed by royal courts, the body lay upon a cata- 
falque of sombre velvet, wrapped in a gorgeous purple 
mantle belonging to the order of St. Hubertus. Tall 
silver candelabra, holding burning wax tapers, stood 
in double rows at the side of the bier ; next to this 
there were beds of flowers, formed by the many tokens 
of love and grief sent from all parts of the world ; 
but there was only one floral tribute nestling upon 
the breast of the departed King — a simple spray of 
jessamine, the last gift the Empress of Austria made 
to her friend and kinsman Ludwig. More than once 
after his death did the royal lady visit the spot 
where the King lost his life, and she herself took 
great interest in the memorial chapel which is to be 
erected there. When visiting Possenhofen, she never 
neglected to make a pilgrimage to the Castle of Berg, 
or to pray at the spot where the unhappy high-minded 
Ludwig ended the life which had become intolerable 
to him. 

The Empress and Ludwig IL of Bavaria 253 

The Emperor, the Crown Prince Rudolf, and his 
sister the Princess Leopold of Bavaria were all admitted 
to the friendship of the eccentric King, and Francis 
Joseph was fully aware of the great sympathy which 
existed between his wife and Ludwig. 

It is reported that the Empress most strongly 
opposed the deposition of her late friend, and had 
actually prevailed upon the Emperor to promise to 
frustrate it, or at least to make it only temporary ; 
the premature death of the unfortunate monarch, 
however, put an end to the matter. 






" But the whole life of man is full of grief, 
Nor is there rest from toils." 


A HIGHLY sensitive nature feels most acutely 
the ordinary troubles and worries of life ; 
and how terrible must be the suffering of the senti- 
mentalists with strongly sympathetic hearts, when 
they are allotted more than the common share of its 
bitterness ! 

The Empress Elizabeth of Austria was one of 
those, one may well say, unfortunate beings for whom 
the Germans have so perfect an expression, which 
we lack in our own language — viz, Gefiihlsmensch 
(" sentimentalist " — although this term by no means 
expresses exactly what is meant by the German 
appellation). She suffered intensely not merely the 
ordinary vexations which form part of every one's 
life, but she felt also the pain of others as though it 
had been her own. 

257 17 

258 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

When we consider the unusually large number 
of misfortunes and awful catastrophes which were 
crowded into her life, we shall experience no difficulty 
in understanding the vehement grief and sorrow 
which the sorely afflicted woman suffered for so 
many years. Nor can we feel surprised that on 
the blotter generally used by the Empress were written 
Byron's true words : — 

" Count o'er the joys thine hours have seen, 
Count o'er the days from anguish free, 
And know, whatever thou hast been, 
'Tis something better not to be ! " 

Early in her married life (1857) she had to mourn 
the death of her first-born, Princess Sophie. The 
imperial couple had undertaken a tour through 
Hungary. The Empress, in fulness of love for her 
children, could not separate herself from her two 
little daughters, and it was therefore decided that 
they should travel with their parents. To guard 
against bad water on the journey, bottles, filled with 
wholesome spring water from Schonbrunn, were 
carried in the imperial train, and placed in ice, in 
order to be kept fresh and cool. However, from 
some unexplained reason, the water decomposed, and 
the child Princess, attacked by typhus, succumbed to 
this terrible scourge after a few days' illness. 

Mater Dolorosa 259 

In 1859 the Empress again passed through a time 
of great anxiety, her gallant husband being with 
his army in Italy, fighting in defence of his realm 
against the allied armies of PVance and Italy. The 
disasters of Montebello, Magenta, and Solferino pro- 
duced unspeakable anguish in the sensitive heart of 
Elizabeth. A few years afterwards she wept over 
the body of a beloved cousin — the young daughter 
of the Archduke Albert, commander-in-chief of the 
Austrian armies, and hero of many battles — who, 
when on the point of becoming the wife of the 
Crown Prince of Italy, had met a terrible death by 
burning in her father's palace in Vienna, through 
setting fire to her light summer attire. 

That the morganatic marriage of her eldest brother 
with Fraulein Mendle, an actress of Munich, also caused 
the Empress great grief is certain, for she was warmly 
attached to him ; and as she could not entirely dis- 
approve of a match founded on such a romantic love, 
she especially felt his being obliged to resign all his 
rights and privileges on account of his matrimonial 

The number of morganatic marriages contracted by 
her near relatives was extraordinary, and the Empress 
felt the many shocks her proud husband experienced 
by the actions of the imperial archdukes no less 
strongly than the mesalliances of her own family. The 

26o Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Archduke Henry married Mdlle. Leopoldine Hofmann, 
who sang in the theatre of Graz, Styria. But long 
before him the Archduke John, brother of the Emperor 
Francis II. and great-uncle of Francis Joseph, had set an 
example of this new departure in the imperial house by 
marrying a peasant. The story is quite romantic. One 
day he arrived at the post-station of Brandhofen ; the 
postmaster was greatly embarrassed, for he found all 
his postilions (the name given to the drivers of the 
diligences) absent, and was unable to supply one for His 
Imperial Highness, who was anxious to continue his 
journey at once. The postmaster's daughter, PVaulein 
Anna Plochel, conceived at once the idea of disguising 
herself as a postilion and driving the Prince ; on the 
way he detected this disguise, became fascinated with 
her youthful beauty and the pluck she displayed, and 
ere many months had passed married her. She was 
created a Baroness of Brandhofen, and later Countess of 
Meran ; and her only son is now the Count of Meran, 
and still lives in Styria. 

But the saddest episode in the chapter of mesalliances 
is that known as the mystery of Johann Orth, one of 
the most remarkable romances in the dynastic history 
of Europe in this century. The Archduke John 
Salvator of Tuscany, and a nephew of the Emperor 
Francis Joseph, had fallen in love with an opera-singer, 
whom he married in spite of all family opposition. 


Mater Dolorosa 261 

renouncing at the same time all his rights, privileges, 
and rank, and assuming the name of Orth, after one of 
his castles. The romantic marriage was celebrated 
secretly, but in a perfectly legal manner, by the 
Registrar of Islington, and countersigned by the 
Austrian Consul-General in London. Johann Orth 
next bought in Liverpool a fine ship, which he re- 
christened the Santa Margarita^ after his wife ; and so 
anxious was he to guard against the vessel being 
recognised, that he stipulated that all drawings and 
photographs of it should be handed over to him, and 
these he burned with his own hands ; moreover, he 
caused all portraits and negatives of himself and of 
his wife to be bought up at any price, and these 
were likewise destroyed. I am giving here only abso- 
lute facts. 

Shortly afterwards he set sail with his wife for South 
Am.erica, and the vessel was duly reported to have 
arrived at Monte Video and departed for a destination 
unknown. But from that moment every trace was 
lost of the ship and all on board ; not a scrap of any 
sort of news as to her fate has ever been recovered, 
although many a search has been made along the coast 
by order of the Emperor of Austria and his Government. 
Adventurers, treasure-seekers too, have been at work, 
as it was well known that the Archduke had on board 
over a quarter of a million pounds in gold ; it is 

262 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

believed that he intended to have bought an estate in 
Chile with the money and to have settled there, but that 
the vessel foundered ofF Cape Horn during a terrific 
storm which raged on the coast shortly after the ship 
left. From time to time since then the most startling 
rumours have been published about the missing Arch- 
duke having turned up : one being that he had been 
one of the leaders of the Chilian rebellion, having 
divided his treasure among his crew, burned his ship, 
landed on a lonely coast, and made his way to Chile ; 
another that he was the famous marshal who fought 
in China ; a third story tells that the eccentric Prince 
is still alive, and secretly corresponded with his mother 
until her death quite recently ; but no doubt the truth 
is that the Santa Margarita lies at the bottom of the 
sea, and that all on board perished. 

Again was the life of Her Majesty saddened by 
the disastrous events in Bohemia in 1866, followed 
in 1867 by the appalling catastrophe at Queretaro, 
where a brother of Francis Joseph, who had 
accepted the crown of Mexico, was executed as a 
traitor. The horror of the event was heightened 
by the fact that the wife of the ill-fated sovereign, 
who had returned to Austria in order to seek succour 
for the hard-pressed Emperor, lost her reason on 
hearing of her husband's death, and that at the very 
moment he was being led forth to execution on the 

Mater Dolorosa 


other side of the world his brother Francis Joseph 
was being proclaimed under circumstances of unpre- 

cedented splendour King ot the Magyars on this. 
The unfortunate lady has lived for twenty-nine years 
at the Castle of Laeken, near Brussels, where she finds 

264 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

her only solace in music. She is a sister of the King 
of the Belgians, and was born in 1840, and married 
when only seventeen years of age. Elizabeth was a 
most kind friend to her sister-in-law, and visited her 
frequently whenever she was in a fit state to receive 
her : no journey was ever too long for her late Majesty 
when she felt that she could alleviate the sufferings of 

Before I reach the climax of the Empress's suffer- 
ings, which brought about such a terrible change in 
her whole life, and from the shock of which she 
never fully recovered, I may again refer to the death 
of Ludwig II. of Bavaria in 1887, which was a 
source of such genuine grief to her. Strongly, too, 
did she feel for her sister the Countess of Trani, who 
was left a widow by the suicide of her husband in 
a fit of temporary insanity. The sad experiences of 
another of her sisters, the ex-Queen of Naples, she 
followed with her sympathetic heart, and mourned 
with her the loss of her throne ; and only a few years 
ago her tears were again shed in sorrow at the 
terrible disaster which befell her youngest sister, the 
Duchesse d'Alengon, who in trying to save the lives 
of her young companions sacrificed her own in the 
appalling fire at the Charity Bazaar in Paris. 

The extent of the Empress's sympathies will be 
understood when it is mentioned that she suflTered 

Mater Dolorosa 


intense grief over the 
death of the Duke 
of Albany, whom she 
had on various occa- 
sions met in Vienna 
and England ; and 
that she felt the sad 
decease of the Duke 
of Clarence on the 
eve of his intended 
marriage with the 
Princess Mary of Teck 
so strongly that she 
was obliged to with- 
draw for a few days 
entirely from inter- 
course with even her 
nearest relatives. Al- 
ways of a romantic 
nature, it was natural 
that this melancholy 
event should have made 

a particularly strong impression upon her, the more so 
as it followed so quickly the death of her own son, 
at which the young Duke had displayed so much 

Those who have suffered can best ■ understand the 

266 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

feelings of grief in others, and it was for this reason 
that the Empress was so intensely sympathetic with 
the Prince and Princess of Wales, for whom she 
entertained a great regard ; in fact, close bonds 
of friendship existed between them. I retain a vivid 
picture in my mind of the Empress walking side by 
side with the Princess of Wales down the carpeted 
platform of Edge Hill Station when the royal party 
alighted from a special train. Elizabeth had been 
paying a visit to Liverpool, and incidentally to the 
delightful seat of Lord Sefton. They were a pair 
of regal beauties, and so remarkably alike in carriage, 
stature, and pose of head as to make the mistake of 
thinking them sisters quite pardonable ; the only 
difference was that the Empress had a slightly firmer 
step than the Princess, and displayed more strength 
in the chest and shoulders. The Empress at that 
time was lithe and graceful in every movement, and 
alighted from the railway carriage with the activity 
of a girl of eighteen, rather than with the cautious 
step of a woman of forty-six, as she then was. 

It caused the Empress great distress to hear of 
the death of the young Prince Imperial, the son 
of Napoleon and Eugenie ; and her mother's heart 
went out in its fulness towards the lonely woman 
who once wore a crown and is now an exile in 
foreign lands. Shocked and grieved, too, was she 


Mater Dolorosa 267 

over the murders of Lincoln, Garfield, and Carnot ; 
in fact, no tragedy could pass without exciting in 
her sympathetic sorrow and grief. And lastly I 
must mention the great disappointment caused her by 
the elopement of her grand-daughter^ with a young 
Protestant officer. 

One might feel induced to ask if anything could 
be added to such a list of misfortunes beating upon 
a woman who ever strove to do her duty and to 
alleviate the sufferings of others, and it is sad to 
say that this question has to be answered with a 
most emphatic " Yes." 

The thirtieth day of the month of January 188-9 
brought upon the poor mother a disaster which may well 
be said to stand unique in this century. It is a strange 
coincidence that this day also is the anniversary of the 
execution of King Charles I., one of Prince Rudolf's 
ancestors. The Crown Prince Rudolf, who was the 
only son of Francis Joseph and Elizabeth, was at the 
date mentioned thirty years of age. He was spending 
some days at the Castle of Mayerling, his shooting- 
box, not far from Vienna, with a small suite and a 
few friends. On the evening of the day above referred 
to he was seen for some time in his box at the opera- 
house; thence he drove to his country seat, and on 
the last day of the month Europe was shocked by the 
news that the youthful Prince had died a violent death, 

268 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Many were the rumours accounting for this terrible 
tragedy ; it is doubtful whether the whole truth will 
ever be known ; and whether his death was caused by 
his own hand, or by the hand of another, is still an 
open question. What is known is that the Crown 
Prince was found dead with a terrible wound in his 
head in the early hours of the 3 ist of January, lying upon 
his bed ; it appeared that the skull had been broken 
either by a stroke with some blunt instrument or by a 
pistol ball. In the castle there was also discovered the 
body of a young lady, the Baroness Vetscera, killed by 
a revolver shot. It was suggested that the unhappy 
Rudolf had committed suicide, but indications (the 
state of the wound itself) led strongly to a different 
surmise. However, of the two most generally accepted 
theories, one made the tragedy a case of double suicide, 
the other attributed it to the vengeance of a relation 
of the young Baroness, who, unable to challenge the 
Prince, killed him and shot also his paramour. 

What this tragedy must have been to his mother 
it is impossible to tell. In the splendid isolation of 
thrones family ties are exceptionally close and tender, 
because sovereigns can hardly have friends. We 
know that here in England the death of Lady 
Augusta Stanley, the wife of the late Dean of West- 
minster, not a relation, but only a friend of our Queen, 
affected her almost as much as the loss of her husband, 

Mater Dolorosa 269 

because Lady Augusta had been long about her person. 
The loss to a sovereign of a near relation, one of 
the few persons who can speak freely, must be great. 
But what must it have been to the Empress of 
Austria, already burdened by more than her full 

270 Elizabetht Empress of Austria 

measure of misfortunes, in poor health, and of an 
exceptionally nervous temperament, to lose her son — 
her only son — whom she loved with all the intense 
love of which a mother is capable? 

Her heroism on that occasion was extraordinary. 
She undertook herself the sad duty of informing the 
Emperor of the terrible news. Although her own heart 
was bleeding, the sense of duty was victorious in the 
wife ; and the noble woman understood how to comfort 
her imperial spouse, and to alleviate his grief and 
suffering. With what intense admiration did the 
peoples of Austria and Hungary — nay, the whole 
world — look up to the exalted woman who sat upon 
the throne of the Austrian Empire, when, herself bowed 
down with unspeakable grief, she endeavoured to 
console and to support her husband, whose afflictions 
were so many and so terrible ! But from that day 
the Empress Elizabeth was no more what she had 
been ; her heart had experienced at that moment 
such pain that it became as dead ; she could, when 
it was needed, be heroic towards the Emperor, but 
the more terrible was the reaction which followed, 
and which overwhelmed the sensitive heart. A dark 
shadow rested upon the beautiful countenance of the 
Empress ; she was never known to laugh from 
that moment, and even her smiles became rare ; a 
veritable Mater Dolorosa she wandered through the 

Mater Dolorosa 271 

wide world, finding her only consolation in doing 
good to others, and in making their sufferings her 

All sorrows of the past faded into insignificance 
beside her suffering and agony at the sad death of 
the Crown Prince. It was ever said that Elizabeth 
and Rudolf were more like brother and sister to 
each other than parent and child ; and we can fully 
conceive how great were the pangs which rent her 
devoted and loving heart when she looked upon the 
pale face of the youthful Prince, who was the hope of 
her life and the centre of her wishes and expectations. 
The devotion of her youngest daughter, Marie Valerie, 
helped to assuage her grief ; but the passage of nearly 
ten years had not been able to bring her forgetful- 
ness. Never did she pass through Vienna without 
descending the crypt of the Church of the Capuchins, 
to lay a wreath on the coffin of her Rudolf — to kneel, 
her head resting on the silver lid, for hours in 
silent prayer ; and she never left the city without 
paying a visit to the late Prince's shooting-box, and 
remaining there in prolonged devotion in the chapel, 
into which the room where the terrible tragedy took 
place had been converted, the castle itself having been 
turned into a monastery. 

The grief of the Empress was expressed in her 
every action during the last nine years of her life, 

272 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

and It no doubt added much to the breaking up of 
her health ; in fact, the wound which was inflicted 
upon her heart on that terrible winter night in 1889 
was only healed by the assassin's steel on the loth of 
September of this year (1898). 



273 1 8 



" To suffer, and to gain thereby 
A more exalted grade 
Among the spirits purified by pain." 

Robert, Lord Lytton. 

THAT the Empress Elizabeth from her earliest 
youth loved the silence of nature, that she 
found happiness in wandering in the quiet and lone- 
some avenues of the park that surrounded her father's 
lake-side castle, or in the vast green aisles of a 
mountain forest, or in sitting on a mossy bank, reading 
one of her favourite authors, is well known ; and when 
she was called upon to fill the position of mistress of 
the Court of Francis Joseph, although she took part in 
all the functions with grace and dignity, it was no 
secret that she would have greatly preferred to have 
been able to roam about alone or with her spouse, in 
some secluded spot where she could with him give 
herself up entirely and unrestrainedly to her love for 
the treasures offered by nature. She contrived to 
retire more and more from Court life, for doing which 



Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

her state of health gave 

#her excuse. After the 
festivities in connection 
with her silver wedding 
in 1879 she every year 
— appeared more rarely be- 

fore the public, and when 
the death of the Crown 
Prince happened, her love 
for solitude became so in- 
tense that soon she could 
only find repose "far from 
the madding crowd." 

Vienna saw her no 
more ; her short stays 
there were given up to visits 
to the coffin of her son. 
Her private residence, the 
Castle of Lainz, which she 
had liked so much in former days, could not hold her for 
more than a week at a time : even this secluded spot 
was not quiet enough for her. In this strange passion 
we cannot fail to again trace a similarity with her kins- 
man Ludwig II, It may be said that her presence for 
the purpose of viewing the pageant which was arranged 
for the celebration of her silver wedding was actually 
her last public appearance. Already at the wedding 

The Recluse 277 

of the Crown Prince Rudolf with Princess Stephanie 
of Belgium, which took place with great pomp on the 
10th of May, 1 88 1, at Vienna, it had been noticed how 
very reluctantly Her Majesty showed herself to the 
people, and only participated in such festivities as took 
place in the more intimate femlly circle. It is true 
she retained her interest in all those charitable institu- 
tions in the establishment 
of which she had assisted 
so successfully ; she still 
continued to visit regu- 
larly hospitals and kindred 
establishments, and have 
personal intercourse with 
the sufferers ; but she 
preferred Ischl to Vienna, 
and there she sought the 
society of peasants in 
preference to that of 
the highest classes. Ischl 
afforded more perfectly the 
quietness which she needed. 
Her youngest daughter 
had been her constant com- 
panion up to the time of 
her marriage in 1890, 
when she wedded the 

I'S Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Archduke Francis Salvator, the wedding being by the 
desire of Her Majesty quietly celebrated at Ischl. 

Another drop of joy fell into the cup of bitterness 
when in 1893 her grand-daughter. Princess Augusta 
of Bavaria, the younger daughter of the Archduchess 
Gisela, married the Archduke Joseph Augustine. But 
no event was important enough to rouse her again 
from her lethargic state ; she began to shun people ; 
and when travelling every contrivance had to be 
resorted to in order to guard her from the stares of 
the many who found pleasure in looking upon her. 
So secret were her movements kept, that she had 
been residing for weeks at Miramare before her 
presence became known in Trieste, a large town 
situated only a few miles distant. 

When sailing in her yacht, she could be observed 
promenading the deck alone for hours and hours; 
not a soul was allowed to approach and disturb her. 
But more than anywhere else was she able to indulge 
in her passion for solitude when residing at her palace 
in Corfu. As I have already shown when describing 
the Achilleon in a previous chapter, her apartments 
there were completely isolated from any other part of 
the building ; she had her private entrance, and could 
leave or enter the palace entirely unobserved at any 
moment during the day or night. Her meals she took 
by herself, waited upon only by a lady-in-waiting and 

The Recluse 47$ 

6ne footman. She would spend a few hours during the 
day in the society of some of her suite, or with her 
teachers and readers ; but the nights were her own — 
then she would wander alone through the dark groves 
and along the gloomy walks. When every one had 
retired and night covered the landscape, in the subdued 
glimmer of the moon or the stars, the Empress was often 
seen entering the gardens, clad in dark, closely fitting 
garments, a black veil thrown over her head, as she 
glided along the terraces and the paths of the park, 
and found her way to the beautiful monument she had 
erected to her son Rudolf in one of the most enchanting 
spots of her domain. 

So far as it was practicable she had in reality become 
a recluse, and her desire to still more thoroughly bury 
herself in some place far from all she knew and had 
once loved was expressed to her intimates over and 
over again. 

When her husband visited her from time to time 
during her sojourns abroad, she became more animated, 
and seemed to be imbued with new life ; she appeared 
for the time being to forget her woes. But the 
reaction which followed such visits was very marked. 
When, shortly before her assassination, she was staying 
at Nauheim, she received, it is true, the visits of some 
exalted personages, as already mentioned in a previous 
chapter ; but the interviews were of extremely short 

28o Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

duration, and most of her time the afflicted Empress 
spent alone. 

In a similar way she could not be prevailed upon to 
accept an invitation to the Court of Queen Victoria, 

The Recluse 281 

when, a few years ago, she was for the last time in 
England, but only paid Her Majesty a flying visit. 
This is the more remarkable when it is considered 
that she entertained a great love and admiration for 
our beloved Queen, and for the Princess of Wales 
and Princess Henry of Battenberg. It had almost 
become a disease, this intense dislike to mankind, and 
it caused Francis Joseph great anxiety. The tragedy 
of Geneva becomes the sadder when we find that 
her health had improved so much during her stay 
in Switzerland that she had commenced to enjoy 
again the society of others, as was shown by her visit 
to the Baroness Rothschild, and by her decision to 
return to Vienna to participate in the Jubilee festivities 
with the Emperor. 

This change was strange, as her aversion to step 
out of her solitude had some months previously 
reached such a pitch that even her meetings with her 
nearest relations became painful to her. Some years 
ago she was strongly attached to her brother Charles 
Theodore and his family, and she rarely missed her 
annual visit to his country seat, or failed to meet him 
at Meran, where he was in the habit of spending the 
winter with his family. Her niece the Duchess of 
Urach (who was the most studious of royal ladies, and 
so fond of books that it was difficult to persuade her 
to tear herself away from them to join in the social 

2^2 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

distractions of her position) was especially loved by 
her aunt, and yet even her society had become 
distasteful to the Empress. In fact, she preferred to 
live in contemplation and in the memory of happier 
days alone, in solitude — a recluse. 







HE fierce light that beats upon the throne " 
enables us common mortals to observe the 
doings of those occupying the highest positions, and, 
our interest in them being ever great, it so happens 
that we hear of innumerable tales and anecdotes, which, 
if not in every instance authentic, allow us neverthe- 
less to judge the general characteristics of those of 
whom they are told ; and on this account they deserve 

I am not in a position to vouch for the truth 
of every item here recorded, but I have sifted the 
material at hand as carefully as I could, and may 
at least say, " Si non e vero ben trovato^ * Neither 
do I pretend to observe a chronological order in 
repeating them : they are given as I received them. 
But so much I may state, — that some of them come 
directly from people who have been in the entourage 
of ^ the late Empress ; all from persons whose veracity 

♦ " If it is not true, it is well invented." 


286 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

I cannot doubt ; and, finally, the truth of some has 
been generally accepted, although I by no means place 
myself unreservedly upon the side of the believers — 
I refer more particularly to the stories which belong 
more or less to the occult and supernatural, but which 
I cannot forego repeating, for this work would appear 
incomplete without them, so essential have they become 
to the Geneva tragedy. 

I may begin with a tale the action of which is 
laid in the first years of Her Majesty's married life. 
Accompanied by the Emperor, she visited an exhibition 
of modern paintings, mostly by young artists, and was 
requested by her husband to make some purchases, in 
order to encourage rising talent. It was the Emperor's 
desire that she should buy works on various subjects, 
but he left the choice entirely to her. In viewing the 
large collection she was accompanied by a lady-in- 
waiting, whose duty it was to mark those pictures 
in the catalogue which Her Majesty selected. When 
she had passed through various rooms, it was found 
that she had put the mark to about twenty or twenty- 
four pictures. When some weeks after those which 
were picked out arrived at the imperial palace, it was 
found that they consisted of twenty-four specimens, but 
instead of the expected variety of subjects they all 
treated of one and the same — namely, "horse-flesh.*' 
Elizabeth had been so completely carried away by her 

Reminiscences and Anecdotes 


love for horses, that every work, without exception, 
represented her favourite animal in one way or 
another. A pleasant smile was observed on the 
countenance of the Emperor as he inspected the 
selection of his 
youthful consort. 

A very unusual 
experience was af- 
forded the Empress 
on a visit to the 
renowned lunatic 
asylum near 
Vienna. Having 
read of some hyp- 
notic experiments 
made by a phy- 
sician who was 
well known on ac- 
count of various 
successful trials, 
and who had suc- 
ceeded, in the case of a confirmed drunkard belonging 
to one of the best Austrian families, in inducing him 
by hypnotic suggestion to take the greatest dislike, even 
disgust, to alcoholic drinks, and to become by his own 
choice a teetotaller, Her Majesty became convinced in 
her own mind that this extraordinary power exercised 

288 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

by some individuals over others would lead to a most 
beneficial issue. She therefore presented herself at 
the asylum at a time when she understood experi- 
ments would be made. She followed every movement 
with the closest attention, and was satisfied with all 
she saw, although no actual practical results were 
derived from the trial, if we except the case of 
an old patient, who, when under mesmeric influence, 
spoke of the life of his youth, and thus enabled the 
authorities to identify him, which they had failed to 
do for more than twelve years, during which time 
the unfortunate man had been an inmate of the 
institution. The Empress repeated her visits on 
diflferent occasions. 

Police Commissary (Inspector) Dietze, who, during 
some years, was employed by the French Government 
to superintend the arrangements made for the safety 
of the Empress during her sojourn in Cap Martin, 
tells the following characteristic story: — 

One day Her Majesty commanded his presence at 
the hotel, and requested him to discontinue the police 
regulations in connection with her person. M. Dietze 
informed the Empress that under such circumstances 
he should have to ask for his recall, but she begged 
him to remain at Mentone, and added, "But I 
implore you to give your attention to the safety 
of my husband : his life is necessary for the weal 

Reminiscences and Anecdotes 289 

of his subjects ; but I am only an insignificant, grief- 
stricken mother — nobody would care for my life. 
I may become the victim of an accident, but you 
cannot prevent a landslip when I am out on the 
mountains, and such accidents are the sole danger with 
which I am threatened ; but for Heaven's sake watch 
over the Emperor — he has a noble and good heart — 
his life is valuable to millions of people." 

Mrs. O'Donoghue, who knew and observed the 
Empress when in Ireland for the hunting season, tells 
some stories of those days, which are proofs of her 
affability, and of the interest she took in every one 
who came into contact with her. She says : — 

" I had the misfortune to ' stake ' my horse badly one 
day, and had to walk for a mile or so to Courtown, 
Captain Davis's residence in those days, close to Kil- 
cock Station. The Empress Elizabeth was at lunch 
in the hospitable dining-room of the mansion when 
my entry was made ; and here again the considerate 
Kaiserin evinced her womanliness and sympathy, 
just as the least pretentious of her subjects might 
have done. I can recollect the scene so well, — 
the lovely Empress * veritably ' dismounted, and not 
looking in the least *sewn in,' and the ladies who 
were also present casting covert glances at her outer 
jacket, or little coat of smooth blue Melton cloth, 
which was laid across the back of her chair. When 


290 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

the time came to put it on, the Empress, helped by 
her courteous host, felt for some time in vain for the 
second armhole, and, moving her pretty hand about 
in search of it, said laughingly, ' How awkward I am — 
how very awkward ; you must excuse me ! ' 

"I think it worth mentioning, as indicative of the 
Empress's regard for animals, that on one of her 
Cheshire days she noticed a man riding with a terrible 
bridle, a strong wiry * rope-bit ' attached to an ordinary 
snaffle ; and it must have been excessively severe, for 
the horse's mouth was bleeding at both corners. The 
beautiful Kaiserin's sensitive eyes positively dilated 
when she saw it, and she uttered one word, in admirable 
English too — namely, ' Brute ! ' 

*' I must either be silent respecting some lovely traits 
in the Empress Elizabeth's character and disposition, or 
occasionally place my own poor personality alongside of- 
hers, which was majestic. In short, she was a kind 
friend to me in those happy early days ; and when later 
on a lamentable accident stopped my hunting career for 
ever, her words of sympathy were the most tender that 
comforted me in my pain. I can never tell, not even 
to this day, why she deigned to notice me, for in truth 
I was ' small and of no reputation,' and was moreover 
the very antithesis of her beautiful and stately self. 

" She was riding one day over a rather rough bit of 
roadway, a short cut to some covert that was to be 

Reminiscences and Anecdotes 


drawn, and as the going was slow a good many among 
the front-rank riders took the opportunity to speak a 
deferential word of welcome to the beautiful woman, 
who certainly 

adopted no pre- ^^ 

tentious airs. 
Purely from ad- 
miration of her 
I longed to do 
the same, and 
my heart was 
my breast with 
the effort to 
summon up 
courage for the 
ordeal, when the 
whole cavalcade 
got on to a 
better stage of 
roadway, and 
the chance was 
lost. But mark 
what followed. The Hnipress, escorted by Earl Spencer 
— who, I am sure, must remember it — slackened rein 
a bit, and, glancing round, addressed a pleasant word 
just when I was feeling particularly small, and then for 


292 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

one delicious moment I rode by her side and answered 
her prettily put queries respecting my experiences of 
Irish sport. She cared nothing to know them — how 
could she ? But she evidently did care that a young 
rider with a flushed face and eyes of eager longing 
had been debarred from speaking to her when evidently 
yearning to do so." 

A story which is still well remembered in the sur- 
rounding country of Possenhofen refers to an incident 
in the girl's life. On the expeditions in which she often 
joined her father, they would sometimes take rest and 
refreshment in a mountaineer's cottage, and on various 
occasions provided the dance music at Kirmesses (fairs) 
by playing zithers, which were easily procured for them, 
such instruments being found in every household in the 
Bavarian Alps. Once when the ducal pair had succeeded 
in preserving their incognito, they were offered and 
accepted some small silver coins in recompense for their 
services, and these the Empress treasured highly. " It 
is the only money I ever earned," she told a friend 
a few years before her death, when showing her some 
of her treasures. 

As I have had occasion to remark before, the Empress 
displayed great taste in her dress ; but for years she only 
wore black or white. Not very long ago she distributed 
among her intimate friends all her Court costumes and 
light-coloured attire ; she said pathetically on that 

Reminiscenc s and Anecdotes 293 

occasion that she would never feel gay enough to wear 
bright-hued dresses again. She had caused her wedding 
dress to be cut up and made into a suit of priestly 
garments for a church in Buda-Pesth : it was a white 
brocade woven with silver threads. Her bridal wreath 
encircles now an embroidered picture of the Virgin Mary 
in the Loretto Chapel, where the Empress frequently 
used to attend services. 

Once the Empress saved the life of a poor woman 
in Hungary ; it happened one day in November 1882, 
when H^r Majesty drove to the meeting of the hounds 
near Magyarod ; the road lay along some steep 
precipices by the side of the Raicos River ; suddenly 
the Empress ordered the carriage to stop, for she noticed 
an old woman close in front of her walking straight 
towards the side of the road where the precipice 
was — a declivity of some hundreds of feet. Elizabeth, 
fearing danger, jumped out of the carriage, and was 
in a minute at the side of the old woman, took her 
arm, and led her away from the chasm. The poor 
woman was blind, and had been left alone for a 
moment, the boy who attended her having gone 
to fetch some water to quench his thirst. There is 
no; doubt the poor creature would have lost her life ; 
and when her little grandson returned the Empress 
reproached him in strong terms for his thoughtlessness, 
gave the woman a few gold pieces, and continued her 

294 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

drive, having been detained for a quarter of an hour 
by the occurrence. 

In 1887 the Empress spent some time at Cromer 
in Norfolk. One day shortly after noon she was 
walking along the coast, when she suddenly observed a 
large crowd of people congregated around some object, 
and on enquiry was informed that a railway porter of 
the Great Eastern Railway Company, named Walter 
Moules, had been accidentally drowned. The Empress 
enquired after the home of the poor man, and directed 
her steps there without delay, finding the wife and 
children at dinner. They had no idea of the mis- 
fortune which had befallen them, and in order to 
prevent any one telling the terrible news too abruptly 
to the widow Her Majesty called her to her side, 
and in the most considerate manner imparted to her 
the sad intelligence. She was just in time, for at that 
moment the dead body was brought to the house. 
With a promise to be a friend, the Empress closed 
her conversation with these words, " Pray for your 
husband and take the best care of your little ones," 
and then left quickly. A few hours afterwards a 
lady-in-waiting appeared at the humble cottage of the 
grief-stricken widow, handing her in the name of the 
Empress a purse containing ^{^400. 

Around Gasturi in Corfu the tales of her benevo- 
lence are innumerable ; but she especially endeared 


Reminiscences and Anecdotes 295 

herself by her kindness to an anchorite, who had 
selected a small rocky islet in the bay as his abode. 
Well aware that it was his desire not to be dis- 
turbed by people in his meditations, the Empress used 
frequently to row all by herself in a small boat out 
to the island, in order to leave baskets with eatables 
for the hermit, and when absent her steward at the 
Achilleon was instructed to see that the man did not 
buffer for want of food. 

A poor octogenarian, who had been for many years 
stricken with rheumatism, and had been at last 
reluctantly compelled to leave the hut in which she 
had spent all her life to enter the almshouses, was 
once spoken to by the Empress when visiting the 
institution. The poor woman expressed her grief that 
she was obliged to leave her old home, where she had 
hoped to spend her last days. Deeply touched. Her 
Majesty promised to see that she should return to 
her old abode, and accordingly the next day the old 
woman was removed to her former habitation, which 
had been made comfortable under the Empress's 
personal supervision, and here she lived for many 
years under the special protection and on the bounty 
of the mistress of the Achilleon. A gravestone, 
erected by her protectress, now marks the place where 
the poor creature is buried. 

So many similar and well-authenticated instances 

296 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

of the murdered lady's beneficence could we give that 
a volume might be filled with them, but those related 
will suffice to show the beautiful character of the 
woman who, herself such a great sufferer, never tired 
of alleviating the lot of others. 

A very pretty story is told of the late Empress's 
father, which, as it is in close connection with her 
birth, may find a place here. At Christmastide 
1837 Duke Maximilian took a stroll through the 
grounds near his castle, when he met a poor old 
woman carrying a heavy bundle of firewood. He 
asked her why she carried such a large quantity, 
and she replied, " Well, sir, this is Christmas Eve, 
and as we have no benevolent Christ-child visiting 
us I intend that my children shall at least have a 
warm room. The Duke was deeply touched by the 
simple explanation, and said, " My dear woman, the 
benevolent Christ-child has already visited me, and 
brought me a gift which has given me so great 
joy, that you also shall have a joyful Christmas Eve 
and shall participate in my happiness." Soon after- 
wards there appeared at the cottage of the astonished 
family two ducal servants, carrying two large baskets 
filled with eatables, fruit, and dainties, and an envelope 
which contained a banknote for two hundred florins 
(about £20). The Christmas gift to which the Duke 
referred was Princess Elizabeth, afterwards Empress 

Reminiscences and Anecdotes 297 

of Austria, who was born on the morning ot that 

One of the officers of the Court has related the 
following interesting episode. He says that for some 
months preceding the death of the Empress disagree- 
able presentiments had been experienced in certain 
circles, owing to an incident which occurred at 

298 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

Schonbrunn on the 24th of April of the present year 
(1898.) The soldier who was posted on sentry duty in 
a corridor, which is separated only by a glass door 
from the passage leading to the chapel, came with pallid 
face and trembling steps to the commandant of the 
guard, and told him that he had seen the form of a 
female clad in white and carrying a lighted taper 
approaching him in the corridor. He at once 
challenged her, whereupon the figure turned round 
and returned along the passage ; the man followed the 
apparition, and then observed a light in the chapel. 
The sentry was so positive concerning the facts which 
he alleged, that a strict search was forthwith instituted, 
but without any result. 

This incident immediately recalled one of those 
weird legends that are so common in royal and aristo- 
cratic families — namely, that the appearance of a female 
attired in white presages death or ruin. This particular 
"White Lady" was seen in 1867, some time before 
the execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico ; 
again in 1869, immediately before the death of the 
Crown Prince Rudolf; and, later still, before the 
drowning of the ill-fated Archduke John Salvator, 
better known to us as Johann Orth. In Court circles 
it is positively declared that this dreaded white spectre 
actually made its appearance at Schonbrunn on the 
24th of April. 

Reminiscences and Anecdotes 299 

A statement made by Mr. Barker, the Empress's 
English reader, who has been already mentioned, 
tends to increase these feelings of superstition rather 
than to diminish them. He says that during the last 
excursion made by Her Majesty at Caux a raven 
suddenly descended upon the rocky plateau upon which 
the party were resting, and in passing the Empress 
its wings brushed her hair. This was looked upon 
as an evil omen. 

Another strange incident is said to have occurred 
just prior to the Empress's departure for Geneva, which 
was related by members of her suite. She passed a 
few days at the Grand Hotel at Caux. On one Friday 
morning, as she was sitting in the balcony of the hotel, 
a lady suddenly appeared before the building. She 
was clad in a white costume with a green bodice. 
She took a seat under one of the many umbrella tents, 
and gazed fixedly in a strange manner at Her Majesty. 
The Empress, evidently disquieted, gave orders that 
the stranger should be spoken to. Two attendants 
started to fulfil the order, but the lady disappeared, 
and in spite of the most careful search, lasting for 
two hours, she could not be found. In the afternoon 
the Empress suddenly ordered her departure. 

The bed upon which the Empress expired has been 
sent by the Emperor's command to Vienna ; it is made 
of rosewood, but otherwise it is extremely simple. 

300 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

The instruments used in the post-mortem examina- 
tion, as well as those utilised in embalming the body, 
were burnt in the morgue at Geneva, to prevent any 
later possible misuse of them. 

Dr. Christomanos, formerly reader to the late 
Empress, has published some extremely interesting 
reminiscences of Her Majesty. He states among other 
things that the Empress knew that she was considered 
an eccentric woman. She remarked to him once, 
*^ People ascribe all my eccentricities to my being a 
Wittelsbach." She often smiled at the poverty of life 
which crowned heads endure. " How I pity the poor 
Emperor ! " she said on one occasion, " for he has 
no time to do anything else but attend to the duties 
of his position." 

Speaking of Bismarck, Her Majesty once said : ** I 
think Bismarck was also a disciple of Schopenhauer. 
He could not bear women — perhaps with the single 
exception of his wife. He disliked queens. The first 
time I saw him he was exceedingly stifF. He would 
have liked to have said " — here she smiled — " * The 
ladies had better remain in their apartments.' I think 
all his hatred of England is on account of the Queen. 
The poor Empress Frederick has also had to sufFer.'* 







" It is a very cruel world." 

H. Rider Haggard. 

IN the eighth chapter of this work I have traced 
the movements of the late Empress from the time 
that she left Vienna early in the year to her last arrival 
in Geneva, and it is my sad duty to relate here the 
terrible crime which ended the life of the sufferer. 
Had she not deliberately dispensed with protection, it is 
improbable that the assassin could ever have approached 
her. Peace be to Elizabeth of Austria's ashes ! May 
she rest indeed ! She has, in joining the countless host 
of the dead, been reunited to her son and brother-in-law, 
both of whom she loved so well ; and to her at least 
death was without doubt a happy release, for life had 
had nothing to ofFer since the terrible tragedy of 
Mayerling. The one who suffers most is the lonely 
venerable sovereign at the Hofburg in Vienna, and 
one can only fervently hope that he may be spared 

any further blow, although it is difficult to conceive 



304 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

of any deep grief that has not already been visited 
upon him. 

From the Quai du Mont Blanc there leads a broad 
avenue through some gardens and park-like squares 
up to the town of Geneva. This is named the Place 
des Alpes. On the left, looking from the lake, is the 
Rue des Alpes, with the Hotel de la Paix ; on the 
right, the Fabris Street, with the Hotel Beau Rivage, 
which forms the corner, and stands between the Hotel 
Richemond and the Hotel D'Angleterre. In the 
middle of the square, near the footway, there stands 
enclosed within an iron fence the large monument of 
Duke Charles of Brunswick, who, as will be remembered, 
left his enormous fortune to the town of Geneva. In 
front of the high tower-like structure there lie two 
lions, looking dreamily out upon the blue waters 
of Lake Leman. The Quai itself is adorned with 
white statues, patches of lawn, and many-coloured 
carpets of flowers, with trees planted in profusion. 
Near by is the landing-place of the steamers which 
ply upon the lake, and a little farther south there is a 
second landing-stage. 

It was on the way from the Hotel Beau Rivage to 
this stage that, on Saturday, the loth of September, 
at about 12.40 a.m., the Empress was assassinated by 
the anarchist Lucheni. The Empress had arrived on 
Friday by steanier from Montreux, in order to pay 

The Assassination 307 

a visit to the Baroness Rothschild at Pregnjr, a place 
celebrated for its magnificent gardens and park. As 
usual on her journeys, she travelled incognito, and 
engaged rooms at the Hotel Beau Rivage under the 
name of the Countess of Hohenembs. The police had 
no official notice, and therefore no official knowledge, 
of the presence of Her Majesty. However, the chief 
of the police department at Geneva, M. Virieux, states 
that he had, without the knowledge of the Empress, 
of whose aversion to such regulations he was well 
aware, placed some detectives round about the hotel 
at Caux during the last week of her stay there ; but 
in spite of the greatest precautions she noticed that 
she was guarded, and asked at once that the detec- 
tives might be withdrawn, a desire which M. Virieux 
acceded to. 

What really took place is told in the following way 
by one who witnessed the tragedy : — 

" The Empress was walking, attended by a lady-in- 
waiting and followed at some distance by a footman, 
from the Beau Rivage to the landing-stage. When she 
was near the stage of the Quai du Mont Blanc, there 
came from the opposite direction a young man, accom- 
panied by another, who was distinguished by a heavy 
grey beard. When quite near Her Majesty, the former 
suddenly threw himself upon her and stabbed her 
through the heart. The Empress Elizabeth fell to the 

3o8 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

ground, but with the assistance of her lady and some 
passengers who were near she was able to rise again, 
and walked to the landing-bridge and reached the 
steamer. But she had hardly arrived there when she 
seemed to become suddenly ill, and with a weak voice 

she said, ' What has happened ? ' and then became 
unconscious, M. Teisset, a member of the Chamber 
of Commerce of Geneva, carried Her Majesty in his 
arms to her cabin after she had fainted on deck. 
The captain was reluctant to order his vessel to 
proceed, but upon the request of the suite of Her 
Majesty he gave the signal to leave the jetty. 

The Assassination 3^9 

However, very shortly afterwards it was noticed, to 
the terror of all, that the Empress seemed unable to 
recover her consciousness. The ladies about her, who 
had done everything possible to assist the Empress, 
observed a small spot of blood upon her bodice. Her 
condition seeming to be serious, the steamer turned 
back, and a stretcher was improvised of oars and sail- 
cloth, and upon this she was reverently and carefully 
carried back to the hotel by officers and sailors of 
the boat." 

The wife of the proprietor of the hotel, Frau 
Mayer, reports the following concerning the last 
moments of Her Majesty : — 

** It was two o'clock when the Empress was brought 
to the hotel, and carried into her bedroom. I was 
called to give such assistance as was in my power. 
We took ofF her clothes, which had already been partly 
loosened, when we noticed two small drops of blood, 
and one a little larger of very light red colour: on 
the body itself there was only a small wound, but 
no blood was visible. Countess Sztaray exclaimed in 
consternation, * The Empress has been stabbed ! ' The 
Empress was lying with a pale face and closed eyes 
upon her bed. Soon after she arrived in her room she 
sighed twice deeply : these were the last signs of life. 
She lay on the stretcher as if asleep, and with no 
outward show of pain. When we removed her from 

3IO Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

the litter to the bed she was evidently dead : she must 
have died when still on the stretcher. Two phy- 
sicians, Dr. Golay and Dr. Mayer, arrived at this 
moment, and also a priest ; but all remedies proved 

The autopsy of Dr. Golay showed some interest- 
ing details of the nature of the wound inflicted by 
Lucheni's weapon. He states that the fatal instrument 
was driven with such violence (fully 3^ inches in the 
body) that it broke the fourth rib, pierced the lungs 
and pericardium, and penetrated the heart from top 
to bottom, finally coming out from the lower part of 
the left ventricle. As the weapon was excessively 
sharp, the bleeding was very slight, and only small 
drops of blood flowed into the pericardium. So long 
as this latter organ was not too full, the action of 
the heart was not impeded : this explains why the 
unfortunate Empress, even with a wound right through 
her heart, was able to walk for some distance. But 
as the pericardium gradually filled with blood death 
ensued. Had the dagger not been drawn out, Her 
Majesty would probably have lived somi time longer, 
because as the weapon filled the wound it would 
have stopped the loss of blood. It appears that Dr. 
Golay had actually photographed the wound, but was 
obliged to deposit the negative with the Procurator- 
General, by whom it was subsequently destroyed. In 

The Assassination 313 

the opinion of the physicians the death of the Empress 
was gradual and quite painless. 

The weapon which the criminal used was found 
afterwards in the passage of a house in the Rue 
des Alpes. It was picked up by the concierge, who 
thought it belonged to a labourer who had moved 
from the house the day before, and who, he imagined, 
had lost it there ; and for this reason he did not notify 
the police of its discovery until the next day. It 
was a triangular file, which was roughly fastened into 
a wooden handle, the whole length of the instru- 
ment being six and a half inches, a little under four 
inches being the length of the file. There was no trace 
of blood upon it, and the point was broken ofF: the 
break most likely happened when the murderer threw 
the weapon into the passage. As soon as the dastardly 
deed was perpetrated the assassin started to run along 
the Rue des Alpes, and evidently tried to reach the 
wide Place des Alpes, where he hoped to be able to 
hide himself ; he was followed by two cabdrivers, 
Victor Vuillemin and Louis Chamartin, who from their 
standing-place upon the Quai had witnessed the deed, 
and who were joined by a sailor, Albert Fiana. Before 
Luchcni could reach the Place he was overtaken and 
handed over to the policeman Kaiser, who brought 
him to the nearest station. 

The murder was done in the most cunning way. 

3^4 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

The assassin had no doubt selected a file, and had 
converted the same into a dagger of dull metal, well 
calculating that a bright steel weapon would have soon 
betrayed his intention ; it was in this way that the 
Countess Sztaray, in spite of her being quite near the 
Empress, could not see that she had been stabbed, 
and entirely refused to believe that Her Majesty 
was wounded till she saw with her own eyes the 
wound on her body ; she and others who were near 
had up to then been under the impression that the 
anarchist had simply struck her, and that her fall 
was due to the powerful stroke. 

However we may search the pages of history, we 
can hardly find a case where such a deed has been 
committed in the populous centre of a town, during 
hours when the sun was lighting up the roads with 
its full summer rays. How pathetic seems the occur- 
rence, when we think of the slim figure, dressed 
in the deepest mourning, walking slowly along the 
Quai to reach the steamer, which should have taken 
her to the place she had selected for quietness and 
seclusion — who bore no ill-will to any one, and was 
only desirous of being allowed to enjoy quietly 
such pleasures as the contemplation of nature could 
afFord her ! So full of confidence was she that she 
refused to allow any precautions to be taken, for 
her safety. Yet even so gentle a creature could 

The Assassination 3^7 

not escape the murderous instrument of the fanatic. 
How terrible a deed and how far-reaching in its 
consequences the assassin can scarcely have foreseen. 
A whole continent mourns the loss of this noble 
woman, whose life was a linked chain of golden 
deeds of benevolence and sympathy, whose sole desire 
was for purity and beauty, who has dried so many 
eyes wet with tears, and who ever opened her heart 
to the appeals of all who like herself had borne grief 
and suffering. 

She had arrived ill, but full of hopes ; and wherever 
she went she won the afFection and love of all who 
came in contact with her. But in spite of all she 
was not permitted to find a peaceful end ; nor was 
she, whose whole life had been a prayer, vouchsafed 
the last consolations of her religion. 

From the statement of the Countess Sztaray we 
gather the following : " When Her Majesty had 
regained her consciousness on board the steamer, I 
asked her, ' Does Your Majesty feel any pain ? ' and 
she replied faintly, * No.' She opened her eyes and 
gazed with gratitude and melancholy sorrow on those 
near her who were endeavouring to restore her by 
opening her corsets and loosening her bodice. The 
only words I heard afterwards were, ' What has 
happened ? ' By this time the steamer had turned 
round, as Captain Roux feared that the condition of 

31 8 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

the Empress was serious. Second Officer Gobel im- 
provised a litter, and it was the captain himself, with 
some sailors, who carried the unconscious lady to the 
Hotel Beau Rivage, up to the first storey, where the 
apartments were situated, which she had left only an 
hour before. Fortunately there was a nurse staying 
at the hotel, and she, with my assistance and the help 
of the proprietress of the hotel, took ofF Her Majesty's 
shoes and cut up her dress. By this time Dr. Golay 
had arrived, and he immediately tried artificial respira- 
tion, whilst the nurse endeavoured to restore sensibility 
by rubbing the body of the Empress, which had 
commenced to grow cold, with eau-de-Cologne and 
vinegar. All seemed in vain ; the doctor made a 
small incision into the artery of her right wrist, but 
no blood appeared, which made it certain that she 
was dead. A priest who had been on the steamer 
arrived, in order to ofFer Her Majesty the last consola- 
tions of religion, according to the Roman Catholic 
rites ; but he was too late. I believe that the Empress 
died at the moment that we laid her upon the bed. 
After her death was confirmed we all knelt down, and 
with tears prayed to the Almighty for the repose of 
that noble soul, which must have reached His throne 
by this time." 

As to the assassination itself the same witness says 
that Lucheni rushed up to the Empress, and seemed 

The Assassination 


to stumble before her; she observed him stretch out his 
hand, as if to save himself from falling; then she caught 
the Empress in her arms as she was staggering. The 
Countess is convinced that the Empress died without 
knowing that she was the victim of an assassin's weapon. 

In another inter- 
V iew with Her 
Majesty's lady-in- 
waiting she emphati- 
cally stated that she 
had not seen any 
weapon in the hand 
of Lucheni, and 
that she was under 
the impression that 
Her Majesty had 
only had a fainting 
fit, due to the heavy ^ 

blow which the as- 
sassin had given her. la -1 - 
She had not enter- 
tained any fear of serious consequences ; in fact, almost 
up to the last moment she had no idea that the.Empress 
was wounded, and she was unable to see any mark on 
the bodice. It was only when Captain Roux had ex- 
pressed his opinion that the condition of the Empress 
was serious, and had come down into her cabin and cut 

320 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

the corsets of the fainting lady, that it was noticed that 
she was wounded. He immediately made enquiries 
as to whether there was a physician on board ; but 
it was found that there was none, and upon that he 
gave orders to turn back. 

It was a strange coincidence that serious apprehensions 
were felt in Vienna in connection with the Emperor's 
sudden determination to make a tour through Bosnia 
and Herzegovina during the course of September, for 
the purpose of ascertaining for himself whether there 
were any grounds for the continuous complaints made 
by the Mohammedan inhabitants against the Austrian 
administrators in those provinces. 

He had been so proverbially unlucky throughout his 
reign that people in Vienna were labouring under an 
impression that some untoward event would occur at 
the last moment to put a stop to the Jubilee festivities 
organised for next December (1898), and the opinion 
was freely expressed that it would be quite in keeping 
with his past career if he were shot down by some 
murderer on the very eve of the fiftieth anniversary 
of his accession to the throne. 

His life is safe enough elsewhere in the Dual Empire — 
as, no matter what the political sentiments of the people, 
they are all united in one common feeling of love and 
loyal affection for their Emperor. But this loyalty docs 
not extend to Herzegovina or to Bosnia, provinces 

The Assassination 31 1 

which in reality belong to the Ottoman Empire, and 
which are occupied by Austria much in the same manner 
as Egypt is held by the English, with the difference that 
Mohammedan fanaticism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 
infinitely more intense and bitter than in Egypt. It 
must be remembered, too, that a Mohammedan who 
slays the Christian despoiler of the Caliph is firmly 
convinced that, far from committing a crime, he is 
accomplishing a good deed, ensuring his eternal salva- 
tion, as well as the gratitude and veneration of all 
the members of his faith. 

An '* untoward event " so much feared by the people 
of Austria has certainly occurred ; the life of the 
Emperor has not been aimed at, but that of his beloved 
consort has been taken. 

It was in the evening of the loth of September last 
that the first news of the terrible tragedy in Geneva 
arrived in Vienna. The detailed oflficial account was 
not published until Sunday night, the nth. It was 
pointed out that the assassin, Lucheni, whose name is 
unknown to any of the police in Europe, most likely 
bore an alias. It was found that his original intention 
was to assassinate the Duke of Orleans ; but as this 
proved impossible he resolved to attack the Empress, 
whom he had followed in her excursions for several 
days, intending to seize a favourable moment. The 
cynicism with which he replied to the question of the 


3^2 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

judicial authorities bordered almost on insanity. He 
declared on examination that he had seen the Empress 
four years ago at Buda-Pesth, and immediately recog- 
nised her again. He added, " I hope she is dead ; that 
blow did not fail." 

It is quite impossible to describe the feelings of 
despair, rage, and horror which sw ^.pt over the Viennese 
when the intelligence of the murder of their beloved 
Empress became known. They far exceeded in intensity 
those caused by the news of the death of the Crown 
Prince Rudolf in 1889. At first no one would believe 
that such a crime could have been perpetrated, especially 
considering the character of the victim. When there- 
fore doubt became certainty, the utmost excitement 
seized upon the masses, who gathered in the streets and 
public places in thousands, and hurried instinctively to 
the imperial palace, hoping to hear fresh details. Many 
people wept aloud, especially the women, who were seen 
in the streets wringing their hands, and muttering 
curses against the assassin. In a surprisingly short time 
the news spread to the outlying districts. The murder 
of the Empress roused a tempest of fury, such as has 
scarcely ever before been seen in Vienna. A servant of 
the imperial house in livery rushed from the palace into 
the crowd, crying, *' Where is the murderer of the 
Empress ? " and fell senseless to the ground. 

The first official intelligence came to the Foreign 

The Assassination 323 

Minister, Count Golukowsky, in the shape of a cypher 
telegram from the Austrian Consul at Geneva ; then 
followed two messages almost simultaneously, addressed 
to the principal equerry of the Emperor, from the 
lady-in-waiting, the Countess Sztaray. The Foreign 
Secretary drove at once to Schonbrunn, where he found 
the Emperor making preparations for the autumn 
manoeuvres in Hungary. The effect upon the vener- 
able monarch when hearing the fearful news was over- 
whelming ; he remained in a kind of stupor for some 
time. Later on the Emperor said to Prince Liechten- 
stein, who for years had accompanied the Empress on 
her journeys as equerry and was much beloved by the 
imperial pair, " That a man could be found to attack 
such a woman, whose whole life wa^ spent in doing 
good and who never injured any person, is to me 

Towards the evening the Emperor drove, amidst 
sympathising crowds, to the Hofburg. The streets 
through which he had to pass were crowded, and many 
angry mutterings were heard when it became known 
that the assassin was an Italian, and threats were 
audible among the working classes. Many attempts 
were made to quiet the growing excitement, and the 
crowds were told not to throw the crime of an individual 
on an entire nation. 


The Swiss Charge d'Affeires has stated that the 

3^4 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

Empress was guarded for some time by the Swiss 
police, but that she had such an objection to this that 
it had to be stopped.- It was an unfortunate circum- 
stance that the Empress was not accompanied in her 
excursion by any gentleman of her suite, as then the 
crime might possibly have been prevented. 

On Sunday morning the Emperor Francis Joseph 
telegraphed that he consented to a post-mortem 
examination. This took place at two o'clock in the 
afternoon, and we have already given the interesting 
but melancholy results of Dr. Golay's autopsy. 

The body of the Empress Elizabeth, robed in white, 
was laid the next morning in the triple coffin in which 
it was conveyed to Vienna. The coffin, which was 
lined with a profusion of white satin, was placed in a 
car, converted for the time being into a chapelk ardente. 
Near the bier was a prie-dieu^ on which lay a rosary 
and a cross ; the floor was covered with a black carpet 
with flecks of silver, and the walls were draped with 
black cloth relieved by silver stars. Nuns, sent by 
the Bishop of Fribourg, knelt beside the coffin. The 
adjoining rooms were filled with wreaths of flowers, of 
which a great number had come from Geneva itself 
Most of them were tied with red and yellow or yellow 
and black ribbons. Among those who sent floral 
tributes were the foreign officers attending the military 
manoeuvres in the neighbourhood. 

The Assassination 


Reluctantly I am obliged, in order to give a com- 
plete history of the dastardly crime, tn speak more 
fully of the murderer himself 

He is a young man born of Italian parentage in 
Paris, but he had never known either his father or 
mother. At the age of ten he had left the charity 
school at Parma, in which he had been brought up, 
and, thrown upon the streets without resources, he had 

3^6 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

obtained work as an unskilled labourer in order to 
make a livelihood. At the age of twenty he performed 
his military service, principally at Naples ; on leaving 
the regiment he obtained a situation as valet to the 
Prince of Arragon, but only remained in that service 
for three months. Anarchist ideas began to gain 
possession of his mind, and prevented his remaining 
in a state of servitude any longer. 

In 1894 the hazard of a life of adventure brought 
him to Buda-Pesth, where he saw the late Empress 
for the first time. After long wanderings in search 
of work he at last arrived at Lausanne, where for 
the first time he obtained work ; it was here that he 
bought, outside an old curiosity shop, the file with which 
he perpetrated his crime. He declared that he hjd 
not any preconceived idea of the use to which it should 
be put. In prison Lucheni boasted of his terrible 
deed ; he expressed no repentance, and said it was 
committed, not to avenge his misery or that of others, 
which would have been idiotic, but in order that such 
crimes following one upon another might cause all 
those arrogant people who fill such positions to fear 
and tremble. He concluded his statement with the 
words, "I am an anarchist by conviction." 

During his examination by M. Auberti at Geneva 
he stated : "I came to Geneva to kill a sovereign, 
with the object of giving an example to those who 

The Assassination 327 

sufFer and who do nothing to improve their social 
position ; it did not matter to me who the sovereign 
was whom I should kill. I had heard that the Duke 
of Orleans was at Geneva, and my first idea was to 
kill him ; but the Duke had left before I arrived. 
It was not a woman I struck, but an Empress ; it 
was a crown that I had in view. I acted on my 
own initiative, without any pressure, and I alone am 
responsible for the deed," 

I need scarcely say that the emotion aroused in 
Switzerland was almost as intense as that in Austria, 
and in order to show the horror which the crime had 
caused amongst the people the Swiss Federal Council 
organised a great public demonstration of regret and 
sympathy on the morning of the 12th of September, 
which proved to be the most imposing affair ever seen 
in that country. 

The famous big bell of the cathedral, known as 
La Clemence, began to peal at half-past eleven, just 
as the procession, which had been mustering for some 
time previously, began to move past the Hotel Beau 
Rivage. At the head marched a squad of gendarmes 
with reversed arms, and a few paces after four huissiers 
in cocked hats and cloaks, half red, half yellow, their 
leader bearing a mace covered with crape. The 
members of the Geneva Government came next, headed 
by President Gavard, and following them a long train 


3^8 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

of civilians in black, members of the Legislature, 
municipal authorities, delegates from the forty-seven 
communes of the canton, deputations from the uni- 
versities, foreign consuls and consular officials, etc. 

The general public joined the procession, which took 
more than an hour to pass the hotel. The sun was 
intensely hot, but every head was uncovered. Order 
was kept by firemen, who wore armlets of black and 
yellow — the Austrian colours. 

All eyes were turned on the terrace of the hotel, 
where a number of personages in deep mourning were 
gathered. Among them were General Berzeviczy, 
Grand Marshal of the Court ; Countess Zichy, lady 
of honour to the late Empress ; Count Kuefstein, the 
Austrian Minister ; and other members of the imperial 
suite, and a priest in plain clothes. 

Though the crowd was immense there was no 
accidenf and no disorder. The slightest direction of 
the police commissary on duty was instantly obeyed, 
and there was a general desire that the demonstration 
should be characterised by no manifestation of feeling 
beyond that of respect for the dead and sympathy with 
the bereaved household and family. 

Most of the shops and places of business were 

The Emperor of Austria sent the following telegram 
to the Federal Council, in reply to that of the President 

The Assassination 329 

of the Federation, in which he had expressed his strong 
and deep-felt sympathy in the name of the Swiss 
people : — 

" Deeply touched by the sympathy expressed in so warm 
a manner, I thank the Federal Council and the whole Swiss 
people from the bottom of my heart for their participation 
in the bitter sorrow which the inscrutable decree of Providence 
has brought upon me." 

The Austrian Ambassador, Count Kuefstein, tele- 
graphed to the Federal Council at Geneva as follows : — 

" Count Golukowski has charged me to thank the Federal 
Council for the cordial sympathy which it has expressed 
both through me and through the medium of the Swiss 
Legation in Vienna on the occasion of the death under such 
tragic circumstances of Her Majesty the Queen and Empress. 
I am at the same time instructed to convey the most heartfelt 
thanks, and to inform you that His Excellency will not fail 
to bring these demonstrations of sympathy to the knowledge 
of his august master." 

The blessing of the remains in Geneva was carried 
out, in accordance with a request addressed to the 
Swiss Government, without military honours. The 
Federal Council received, both from all parts of 
Switzerland and from abroad, innumerable messages 
expressing sorrow and indignation at the crime. This 
council attended in a body the ceremony, which took 

33^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

place in Geneva at two o'clock in the afternoon of the 
13th of September. 

Early on the 14th of the same month the special 
train conveying the body of the murdered Empress 
started on its long and mournful journey from the 
place where she had lost her life to the place where her 
mortal remains were to be laid to their eternal rest. 

Before the coffin was finally sealed up the last legal 
forms were complied with, the identity of the corpse 
being proved by the presence of the Austro-Swiss 
authorities. The coffin was fitted with two glass 
windows, covered with doors, which could be slid back, 
so as to permit a sight of the contents ; these doors 
were locked — one key was given into the custody of 
the Master of the Household of the late Empress, 
whilst the other was handed to the Master of the 

For the purpose of identification the face of the 
Empress was exposed to view ; everybody who saw 
it was deeply touched by the tranquillity and peaceful 
expression worn by the countenance of the august dead. 
The formal certificate of death declares that the passing 
away was easy and painless. 

In the register of deaths in the town of Geneva 
the name of the Empress is thus entered : " Empress 
Elizabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary " (then follows 
a complete list of her titles and dignities), " sixty-one 

The Assassination 333 

years of age, died on the loth of September, 1898, at 
2.10 p.m., at the Hotel Beau Rivage, Geneva." The 
entry of the Empress's death stands in the register 
between those of a child and a woman, who expired 
on the same day. 

The identification or ** recognition " having been 
duly finished, the coffin containing the remains was 
removed at half-past eight in the morning ; the hearse 
was drawn by four horses, almost hidden by their long 
black trappings, and was followed by two other cars, 
each completely covered with wreaths and flowers. 

The whole way to the station the streets were lined 
on both sides by firemen, behind whom were enormous 
crowds of people, massed many rows deep. The 
approaches to the hotel had been cleared at an early 
hour, and all the neighbouring streets were either 
barred by cords drawn across and firmly fastened or 
by light barricades. The conduct of the people was, 
however, everywhere exemplary, rendering the task of 
maintaining order an easy one. 

The coffin, which was almost invisible at the obse- 
quies, owing to the mass of flowers surrounding it, 
was of polished oak, adorned with raised mouldings 
and silver fittings and handles. The four feet by 
which it was supported were also of silver, and the 
funeral car itself was decorated with ornaments of 
the same metal. The canopy was surmounted by a 

334 Elizabeth, Empress of 'Austria 

silver cross, and at each corner were white plumes 
fringed with silver. The four horses also bore white 
plumes on their heads. 

The coffin was brought down from the chapelk 
ardente and placed on the car by eight bearers, imme- 
diately after which the cortege was formed, a force of 
gendarmes and firemen acting as escort. 

Among the wreaths upon the hearse itself were 
tributes from Queen Amalie of Portugal, the Queen 
of Roumania, the inhabitants of Geneva, and others 
from various Swiss cantons. Those on the two cars 
following included wreaths from the Swiss Federal 
Council, the Council of State, the consular body in 
Geneva, the Italian colony, various political associations, 
the Spanish colony, the ladies of Geneva, the Comte 
de Montholon, the French Ambassador to Switzerland, 
and the foreign military attaches present at that time 
in Geneva for the annual manoeuvres. 

Immediately behind the two floral cars came a large 
number of closed carriages, two abreast, those on the 
right containing the representatives of the Emperor 
and the personages of the Austrian Court sent from 
Vienna, and. those on the left the members of the 
Swiss Federal Council, headed by the President and 
Vice-President of the Confederation, the horses being 
all decked with black trappings. 

By the side of each coachman was seated a Federal 

The Assassination 335 

usher, dressed in a scarlet pilgrim's robe. All the 
official mourners wore black with white ties. 

The occupants of the five Austrian Court carriages 
were as follows : — 

First Carriage : Count Bellegarde, Grand Master of 
the late Empress's Court ; and Countess Harrach, 
Her Majesty's Mistress of the Robes. 

Second Carriage : General Berzeviczy, the Grand 
Marshal of the Austrian Court ; and the Countess 
Festetics, lady-in-waiting to the late Empress. 

Third Carriage : Count von Abensperg-Traun, 
Grand Chamberlain of the Austrian Court; and 
Countess Sztaray, the lady-in-waiting who was with 
the Empress when she was assassinated. 

Fourth Carriage : Mr. Barker, the late Empress's 
Greek reader ; and M. Paoli, the French police 
functionary who was always appointed to accompany 
Her Majesty when travelling in France. 

Fifth Carriage : Count von Kuefstein, Austrian 
Minister to Switzerland ; and his Secretary of Legation, 
Baron Giskra. 

Other carriages followed with members of the 
Empress's suite and a number of her personal 

Another detachment of gendarmes and firemen 
brought up the rear. 

During the passage of the procession from the hotel 

33^ Elizabetht Empress o( Austria 

to the station, which was reached in a little less than 
a quarter of an hour, the great bell of the cathedral, 
known as La Clemence, tolled continually. Not only 
were the roads along the route taken by the pro- 
cession thronged with people, but every window of 
every house commanding a view of the cortege was 
filled with people anxious to pay their last homage 
to a good and noble woman. Nevertheless, the pro- 
cession passed by in the most absolute silence, every 
man's head being uncovered, and numbers of women 
crossing themselves devoutly as the coffin passed. 

The main hall of the Carnavin Station, through 
which the coffin had to pass on being transferred from 
the hearse to the special train, had, by the directions 
of the Jura-Simplon Railway Company, been converted 
into a large mortuary chamber, the walls being draped 
with black, while the floor was tastefully arranged with 
a large number of palms and other foliage plants. The 
entrance to the hall was also hung with black draperies, 
from amid which, over the doorway, the Austrian 
imperial eagle stood out boldly on a white ground. 

As the remains were removed from the car a 
benediction was once more pronounced over them by 
the chief ecclesiastic of the cathedral. The coffin was 
then borne to the special train which was to convey it 
to Vienna, and was placed in the carriage which had 
been arranged for its reception. The only wreaths 

The Assassination 337 

placed in the car with it were those sent by the Queens 
of Portugal and Roumania, and those of General 
Berzeviczy and Countess Sztaray. As soon as these 
had been arranged the doors of the car were closed and 

33^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

hermetically sealed, after which the Swiss civil authorities 
passed in turn before the group of Austrian dignitaries 
who were to travel by the train to Vienna, and gave 
them a farewell salute. The Emperor's representatives 
then took their places in the saloon-car. An adjoining 
carriage was occupied by several high railway officials. 

In the meantime the remaining wreaths and flowers 
from the hearse, and those from the two cars which 
followed it, had been conveyed to the carriage reserved 
for them. This was next to the engine, and follow- 
ing it was the special car with the Empress's remains ; 
next came a carriage occupied by servants, two saloon- 
cars for the members of the Court and their suites, 
a dining-car, and a brake. 

All the Swiss Federal authorities remained on the 
platform until the train started, the Austrian repre- 
sentatives at the same time standing on the platform 
of their saloon-car, and again exchanging salutes with 
them as the train left. 

The day before the crime the Empress had visited 
Baroness Julia Rothschild, wife of Adolphe Rothschild 
of Paris, at Pregny. Some days previously an 
intimation had been sent from Caux of the intended 
arrival of the Empress on Friday, the 9th, to take 
lunch at Pregny. Baroness Rothschild proposed that 
she should send her yacht, which would come via 
Caux and Territet direct to Belle vue, without obliging 

The Assassination 339 

Her Majesty to touch at Geneva. The Empress 
declined this kind offer, but on the day fixed she 
appeared with Countess Sztaray at the Baroness's villa. 
She had left her carriage some distance from the gates, 
and had walked the rest of the way ; she was in 
excellent spirits, and spoke to the steward of the estate, 
with whom she had become acquainted on a former 
visit. After lunch, at which a band played, a walk was 
taken in the splendid park ; Her Majesty led the way 
with the Baroness, conversing with her in French. 
The Empress especially admired the orchids, which were 
then growing in great quantities in the hot-houses, and 
the Baroness offered to send her a bouquet, which Her 
Majesty accepted. The Empress then returned to 
Geneva. It is a pathetic fact that these orchids formed 
part of the magnificent wreath laid by the Baroness on 
the coffin of the Empress. 

In closing this chapter I may refer to the enormous 
number of telegrams of condolence received by the 
Emperor. Even from the remotest parts of the 
world, such as Africa and Australia, came sympathetic 
messages. The Queen of England was one of the 
first to telegraph : — 

<* Words fail me in which to express my heartfelt 
sympathy and my horror. It is too dreadful, too cruel. May 
God support and protect you I *' Victoria, 

<^ Balmoral, September loih" 

340 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

The German Emperor expressed his feelings in the 
following words: — 

" Deeply shaken and still unnerved, I can scarcely find 
words to say how I feel for you, and how I suffer with you 
in sorrowing over your heavy loss. It is a trial from Heaven 
that we mortals cannot understand, which only weighs us 
down with fearful severity. The only consolation for us 
poor human creatures is that it is ordained.'' 

King Humbert telegraphed : — 

'' The cruel misfortune which has struck you fills us with 
shuddering and indignation. I wish I were near you to 
show you by my afiection the share I feel in your pain. 
Margherita and I join with all our hearts in your prayers 
and fears, praying God to afford you that consolation which 
He alone can give." 

The Czar and his consort sent the following 
message : — 

" We are horrified to receive such dreadful and unhappy 
tidings. In this cruel trial we would express to you our 
sincere feelings of sorrow and pain. May God sustain you 
and lend you strength to bear this irreparable loss I 

"Alexandra and Nicholas." 

A message was also sent by the Lord Mayor of 
London to this effect : — 

" The Lord Mayor desires in the name of the citizens to 
express the deep indignation and sorrow felt in the City 

The Assassination 34 ^ 

of London by all classes alike at the terrible crime that 
has deprived Austro-Hungary of her Empress-Queen and 
its august ruler of his beloved consort/' 

To these wires may be added one from the President 
of the United States : — 

'^ I have heard with profound regret of the assassination 
of Her Majesty the Empress while at Geneva, and tender 
Your Majesty the deep sympathy of the Government and 
people of the United States. 

"William McKinley." 

Among the many wreaths and other floral tributes 
with which the coffin and its surroundings were 
crowded was one which was enveloped with the 
American colours and had the following inscription 
on its ribbons : " From the President of the United 
States : a tribute of heartfelt sympathy, in memory 
of a noble and gracious lady." There was also a silver 
palm branch, which was placed on it in the name of 
M. Felix Faure, and a coronal in that of the Govern- 
ment and the Republic. 






"Only the actions of the just 
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust" 


THE 17th of September, 1898, will ever be 
remembered by the thousands and thousands 
who thronged the Austrian capital to pay their 
last tribute to their murdered Empress. It was a 
beautiful autumn day, the sun appeared in all his 
splendour, not a cloud was visible in the deep blue 
sky, when the Empress Elizabeth was placed in the 
tomb of her ancestors. Nature, whom she had loved 
so dearly, seemed to have put on her most lovely 

It was about ten o'clock at night on the 15th 
when the body of the Empress reached Vienna 
by the railroad which is called, after herself, the 
" Elizabeth-bahn." 

Never since Austria won for herself a name 
among the nations of the earth, has the home- 


34^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

coming of any of her sovereigns proved so mournful 
or impressive as this — the last journey of the accom- 
plished and beloved Empress Elizabeth. From city to 
city the funeral train rolled slowly onwards, accom- 
panied by the tears and orisons of the deeply afflicted 
people, who once warmly welcomed her as a blushing 
young bride, and to-day bemoan the loss of the 
beneficent lady who lessened their sorrows and 
intensified their joys during the most eventful period 
of the century. In Innsbruck, in Hall, in Salzburg, 
in a word all along the route taken by the cortege^ the 
entire population, their houses draped in mourning, 
their persons clothed in deepest black, and their hearts 
full of love and sympathy for the gallant and dis- 
consolate old Emperor, turned out to pay the last 
honours to their idolised Empress. 

A representative of the united Swiss railways had 
escorted the imperial train to the frontier, and at 
three o'clock on the morning of the 15th had 
reached the loyal province of Tyrol, where, despite 
the early hour, crowds assembled at the station, and 
literally covered the space around the hearse with 
fresh-cut dewy flowers. In spite of the orders which 
had been given to keep the platforms clear of people, 
it was impossible to prevent the sorrowing subjects 
from doing reverence to the beloved dead. Crowns 
and garlands of flowers were laid round the coffin 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 347 

by various corporations and public bodies, and that 
offered by the entire population of the province was 
woven of palms, lilies, and white roses, and bore 
simply the legend, " Tyrol to its dearly beloved 

The Court ceremony, which took place at night, 
although suggestive in its details of the days of 
Philip II. of Spain, and even of the more ancient 
times of Byzantium, had for its aim and object the 
delivery of the Empress's body by her own Master 
of the Household to the chief Court officers of the 

Vienna had become completely transformed. The 
flagstaffs on either side of the spacious Ringstrasse, 
from the tops of which the national colours had been 
gaily floating ever since the official inauguration of the 
Jubilee, were now covered with crape and white muslin, 
and immense black flags hung from their summits 
like eerie shadows. The sky had become overcast 
with dark drifting clouds, rain seemed imminent, and 
the black scowl of heaven harmonised with the soul- 
harrowing sorrow of the people. 

There was a great exhibition of peculiarly tasteful 
and appropriate expressions of the national sorrow — 
wreaths and other tokens in roses, laurels, palms, and 
crape. So numerous were the black flags floating 
from roofs, windows, and balconies, that all Vienna 

34 S Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

appeared as though darkened by the countless wings 
of some mighty monster, enthroned aloft in undisputed 

Shortly after the body had arrived at the station, 
the Emperor and his two daughters, the Archduchesses 
Gisela and Valerie, left the palace at Schonbrunn, and 
started off in a closed Court carriage for the chapel 
at the imperial residence. The party arrived there 
shortly after the remains -had been placed on the bier, 
and all three knelt down before it, where they remained 
in prayer for some time. 

The appearance of the Emperor at his Vienna 
residence had been quite unexpected, and his last 
parting with her who had been dearer to him than 
life itself was emotionally tragic. He had driven 
through by-ways and side-streets, and had arrived 
within the precincts of the historical palace unnoticed 
by the countless multitudes who blocked the thorough- 
fares leading to the Hofburg. His Majesty stood erect 
and silent in the vestibule, where he was joined by 
Prince Leopold of Bavaria and the Archduke Francis 
Salvator, his son-in-law. From time to time he 
changed his position uneasily, raised his head higher, 
compressed his lips, and made evident but successful 
efforts to subdue the terrible emotions which were 
struggling within him for the mastery. His two 
daughters, who were close by, were completely over- 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 349 

come and quite unable to restrain their tears. How 
long the brave old monarch would have been able to 
master his harrowing feelings it is impossible to con- 
jecture, but after a few minutes of most painful 
suspense the eight coffin-bearers ascended the stone 
steps and approached the vestibule. Leaving his place, 
the Emperor drew near them ; and they, riveted to 
the spot by the sudden apparition of the sorrowing 
monarch, stood still. This was one of the most 
painfully dramatic scenes of the night — this sad and 
silent and final meeting after a short parting of the two 
who had been everything to each other. The Emperor 
remained motionless, as if rooted to the ground, his 
dry eyes fixed upon the plain dark brown coffin, his 
hands shut. Every person who took part in this 
moving scene, except perhaps the two Archduchesses, 
presented the appearance of figures cast from a mould, 
or of human beings thrown by some supernatural 
agency into a trance. 

After two or three minutes of this silent contempla- 
tion, the Emperor, raising his hand, gave the signal that 
the coffin should be taken to the chapel, he himself 
following with head erect, eyes dry, and the noble 
bearing which has ever been one of his principal 
characteristics. Princess Gisela had mastered her 
feelings to some extent, although she still continued 
to weep and sob ; but the Archduchess Valerie 

3S^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

tottered, and had to be gently led by her husband- The 
members of the imperial family were followed by the 
personages who had accompanied the Empress's body 
from Switzerland, and then the ceremony of blessing 
the body began. 

The vested priest stood in the centre of the mediaeval 
chapel, which was draped in black. The coffin was laid 
on the bier before the altar, a large silver crucifix at the 
head, and four crowns, once worn by the murdered 
Empress, at the opposite end. During the simple biit 
impressive rite, which lasted a quarter of an hour, 
the Emperor remained standing, while the august 
ladies knelt on frie-dieus. The words of the service, 
familiar to every Roman Catholic, and exceptionally so 
to the Emperor, struck, now that they were uttered 
on behalf of his beloved consort, upon the tenderest 
chords hidden deep in the sorrow-stricken heart, and 
the emotions he felt produced a twitching of the facial 
nerves, an uneasy movement of the fingers, a con- 
vulsive movement of the lips, which no eflfbrt could 
hide. The priest's voice grew more solemn and 
impressive ; and when at last he pronounced, in tearful 
tones, the name Elizabeth, Francis Joseph's eyes filled 
with tears, which ran in torrents down his cheeks, 
the gallant, erect bearing vanished, and he was now a 
sore-stricken, broken man, who stood weeping and 
sobbing in the presence of his murdered and beloved 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 3 5 1 

wife. The monotonous tone of voice in which the 
sacerdotal blessing was continued exercised a calming 
effect upon the Emperor, who again recovered his 
apparent composure. 

This ceremony over, Count Bellegarde, the Chief 
Master of Ceremonies of the Empress, delivered up the 
keys of the coffin to Prince Liechtenstein, who occupies 
a similar position in the Emperor's Court. Francis 
Joseph, turning his eyes towards Prince Liechtenstein, 
saw the keys, and then, moving mechanically towards 
the coffin, like one in a dream, suddenly stretched out 
his arms towards the remains of the murdered Empress, 
and with a look of inexpressible anguish fell heavily 
upon his knees, and let his head fall upon the undraped 
lid of the coffin, which he passionately, convulsively, 
and repeatedly kissed, helplessly, hopelessly sobbing 
aloud the while. This extremity of grief, for which 
there is no medicine upon earth, affected every one 
present, and there was no longer a dry eye in the 
chapel ; the Archdukes, Prince Leopold, the priests, 
and servants all gave vent to their grief in tears. 

A few moments later everybody withdrew except the 
Emperor, his daughters, and his sons-in-law, who laid 
garlands on the bier, and then knelt down before the 
altar, where they remained five or six minutes in prayer. 
Rising from his place, the Emperor gave a sign that 
all were to retire. As he was leaving the chapel His 

35^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

Majesty noticed Countess Sztaray, who had been the 
Empress's companion in her last travels. Turning to 
this lady, and speaking in a loud, clear, unfaltering 
voice, he said, " Did Her Majesty suffer much ? " "I 
think not," was the reply ; " for Her Majesty soon 
fell into a deep and painless sleep, and with but x>ne 
sigh was released from life." The Countess Sztaray 
seemed overcome by the painful reminiscence, and sank 
helpless on her knees. His Majesty took her hands 
and raised her up, after which all the persons who had 
taken part in this memorable drama retired. 

Upon the general desire of the people, the Emperor 
consented that the remains of his beloved wife should 
lie in state for two days in the imperial chapel, which 
is in itself mediaeval and mystic, but much too small 
for such ceremonies as this, which had brought together 
no less than eighty princes, as well as countless throngs 
of people exhibiting signs of the greatest grief. The 
walls were draped in black, their sole ornament being 
the Empress's coat of arms, with the inscription, 
" Elizabetha Imperatrix Austrae, 1898." The atmo- 
sphere was heavy with the scent of numberless flowers, 
mingled with that of incense. In the centre of 
the chapel was a plain dark brown wooden coffin, 
without any pall, containing the metallic shell in 
which she who was lately the Empress of Austria 
and the Queen of Hungary sleeps her long last sleep. 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mournii^ 353 

Slender green palms, tasteful garlands and wreaths, 
symbolical of mcurning, of victory, of hope, filled 
the centre of the chapel, and formed a pleasant and 

reposeful contrast to the ubiquitous black. Two nunS 
were kneeling in silent prayer like two wax figures, 
apparently lifeless. On the steps ot the bier stood 


354 Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

four warriors, as motionless as statues ; they were the 
guard of honour, whose brilliant armour reflected 
the sea of light, whose waves inundated the little 
church. Marvellous and vision-like were the eflfects 
of the play of colours of the precious stones that 
ornamented the four crowns lately belonging to the 
murdered lady : the crown of Empress, first worn 
by Marie Theresa ; the crown of Queen, used at 
her coronation in Buda-Pesth more than thirty years 
ago ; the crown of Archduchess ; and that of Princess. 
On a cushion hard by were exhibited the nine decora- 
tions which Her Majesty possessed, conspicuous among 
them being the Order of the Sternkreutz and the 
Catherine Order of Russia ; and on another cushion 
were placed a pair of white gloves and a fan. Before 
the coffin only three wreaths were to be seen ; they 
had been laid there by the loving hands of the august 
lady's consort and children. 

The funeral took place on Saturday, the 17 th, at four 
o'clock in the afternoon. 

The streets through which the cortege passed were 
enveloped in a cloud of sable mourning, and looked 
like dismal corridors leading to some vast abode of 
the dead. Sorrow was the predominant note, even 
among those classes of society whose horizon seems 
usually circumscribed by the present and who are 
devoid of an outlook upon the future or the past. 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 355 

Flowers were everywhere offered for sale — forget-me- 
nots, white roses, graceful lilies — all of them enveloped 
in transparent crape. The naked flames of the burners 
in the lamp-posts on the road served as torches, and 
the garish light burnt steadily in the breathless air' 
from mid-day onwards. The grim silence of the 
crowds was continually broken by the clatter of 
gorgeous carriages, conveying the notabilities of Austria 
to the imperial palace; kings and princes, field marshals 
and admirals, chancellors and prime ministers, cardinals, 
archbishops, and monks, followed each other in rapid 
succession, attired in a variety of uniforms, costumes, 
and robes, representative of past ages, and of many 
existing secular and religious institutions. 

At a quarter to four the body-servants of the 
deceased Empress removed the coflfin from its standing- 
place, whereupon the Court chaplain recited once more 
the traditional blessing. After this the cofHn was 
placed in the historic hearse, which, within the short 
span of a hundred years, has carried the remains of 
three Emperors and six Empresses from the Burg 
Capelle to the Capuchin Church. It was drawn by 
eight colossal raven-black steeds, over whose heads 
were nodding plumes of black ostrich feathers. The 
coffin, once laid on the richly carved hearse, which was 
surmounted by a black crown, was eflfectually hidden 
from view by the dense black falling drapery. The 

35^ Elizabeth^ Empress of Austria 

coachmen and other attendants were dressed in black, 
and wore three-cornered hats over their white wigs. 
Not another light hue or colour was anywhere to be 
seen in their liveries. Everything in and near the 
hearse was as black as the four ebony pillars that 
supported the roof of the lugubrious vehicle. 

The funeral procession was led by Polish Uhlans, 
with drawn sabres glistening in the stray sunbeams 
that straggled athwart the floating black flags. Then 
came a rider attired in quaint costume, as black as 
the hearse. Another squadron of Uhlans, followed 
by another sable cavalier, and then a long line of 
mourning coaches, each one drawn by six black horses, 
conveyed the palace dignitaries, including those ladies 
who were in the service of the late Empress. This 
melancholy monotony of unchequered black was all 
at once succeeded by a vision of gay colours, such 
as might suit the day of a monster military review — 
cloths of gold and silver, stufl^s of scarlet, plumes of 
snowy horsehair, and polished steel, glistening in the 
sun. The palace guards, the body-guard riders, and 
others, with bright red, gold-spangled coats, battle-axes, 
and quaint headgear, rode onwards. Next appeared 
from beneath the triumphal arch a stream of yellowish 
light, proceeding from the flambeaux of the torch - 
bearers, who surrounded the imperial hearse. The 
vehicle of the dead was followed at some distance by 


Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 359 

brilliantly dressed cavaliers, hussars, and palace guards, 
but not by the monarch himself, nor by any of his 
noble guests, all of whom had already left the Hof burg 
by a different route for the historic church of the 
Capuchin friars. 

The Capuchin Church is probably the plainest place 
of worship in all Vienna. Of very limited dimensions, 
devoid of all architectural and other ornament, it was 
built in high-souled humbleness of heart by the Empress 
Anna, the consort of the Emperor Matthew, in the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, for the express 
purpose of serving as the burial-place of the members 
of the House of Habsburg. The distinguished lady 
who founded the monastery was the first whose remains 
were laid in the dismal vaults below, and the Empress- 
Queen Elizabeth is the last but one who will be 
interred there, for there is now no room for more than 
a single coffin, that of the reigning Emperor, and even 
before that can be laid in position the casket of the 
Emperor Maximilian will have to be removed. The 
vault can contain one hundred and twenty-eight coffins, 
and that of the late Empress is the one hundred and 
twenty-seventh. Very narrow are the precincts of that 
house of prayer and death, but infinite is its grasp of 
weal and woe, and in the darkness of its dismal vaults 
has been quenched the light of the life-dreams of many 
a scion of the historic House of Habsburg. It was 

360 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

constructed for a less numerous company of the illus- 
trious dead than that which now occupies its hallowed 
space and from time to time it has been enlarged. 

So soon as the hearse reached the little whitewashed 
church the body-servants of the Empress removed the 
pall and revealed the coffin to those who were near 
enough to see it. It is a narrow plain oaken shell, the 
corners bound with silver, and its only ornament is a 
silver cross on the lid. Every other member of the 
House of Habsburg was conveyed thither in a heavy 
massive coffin. The reason of this difference is that 
the coffin in which the Empress Elizabeth rests is 
a foreign shell, made under exceptional conditions. 
The moment it was raised aloft from the hearse the 
word of command was given to the soldiers, whereupon, 
to the beating of muffled drums, accompanied by the 
low tones of wind instruments, the lowering of crape- 
covered flags, and the presenting of sabres, the troops 
oflTered the last military honours to the illustrious dead. 

Meanwhile the coffin had been carried through the 
door into the sombre church. This humble place of 
worship, which is never very bright, was literally 
covered with black cloth and crape, which served as 
a powerful foil to the white episcopal mantles in which 
the bishops were clad and the glittering gold of the 
sacerdotal copes. More than eighty bishops were 
crowded together in the circumscribed space allotted 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 361 

to them in front of the high altar. In the midst of 
these "spiritual shepherds" stood Cardinal Archbishop 
Gruscha of Vienna, whose melancholy duty it was to 
pronounce the final benediction and utter the last 
solemn words. The Imperial Court Choir, whose 
voices were to accompany that of the Cardinal, and 
chant the thrilling Libera over the lifeless remains, 
was presided over by Hans Richter. Word having 
been brought to the Emperor, who, with the other 
members of the imperial house, was in the refectory 
of the Capuchin Monastery, His Majesty, in time to 
meet the coffin, entered the church by a side door to 
the right of the high altar at a few minutes past four. 
He was followed by the Emperor William and other 
monarchs, while the Crown Princess Stephanie and the 
two daughters of the Empress, enveloped in robes of 
mourning, moved forward. The Emperor manfully 
mastered his feelings. All eyes were riveted upon 
him as he stood erect in front of the coffin. At a short 
distance there was a long crape-covered bank, on which 
the Emperor William, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, and 
Kings Albert of Saxony, Charles of Roumania, and 
Alexander of Servia took their places in the order named. 
Opposite the Emperor Francis Joseph stood the Papal 

The subdued sounds of church bells and the tones 
of muffled drums which penetrated from without 

362 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

suddenly ceased, and the silence was as that of the 
graves underneath. Then Cardinal Archbishop Gruscha, 
raising his voice, recited in solemn accents the funeral 
benediction, whereupon the choir chanted the traditional 
Libera^ which, being translated, means, " Deliver me, O 
Lord, from everlasting death in that awful day when 
the heavens are to be shaken and the earth, and when 
Thou comest to judge the world." The refrain, which 
contains the terrible words, " Dies ira^ dies ill^y^ is 
peculiarly impressive ; then comes the softer and more 
hopeful passage beginning, " I am the resurrection and 
the life." The last words were pronounced, and silence 
reigned once more. The Head Master of the Cere- 
monies, rising, approached the Emperor, and with a 
profound obeisance signified that the last and saddest 
moment had arrived — that of the eternal leave-taking 
from that which once was near and dear. The 
attendants lifted up the coffin, and the Emperor, with 
his daughters and sons-in-law, followed. The foreign 
princes bowed low as the mortal remains of the Empress 
were carried past them to the vault below. Signs of 
acute pain passed over the Emperor's countenance 
from time to time, but they vanished as rapidly, leaving 
no trace. Once, and once only, during the recital of 
the benediction, composed of Biblical texts, the natural 
echo of whose solemn oratory is a sigh, the monarch 
seemed on the point of breaking down ; but his iron 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 363 

will maintained the mastery. Now, while he descended 
to the house of death below, fears were entertained 
that his energy would abandon him, and the silence 
was painful in the church, where every prince and 
priest and warrior listened for a tell-tale sound from 
the depths beneath. 

An eye-witness of what took place in those sub- 
terranean spaces declares that, when the coffin was laid 
in the provisional resting-place, the Emperor, accom- 
panied by Cardinal Gruscha and the Father-Guardian of 
the Capuchins, knelt down on a prie-^ieu and prayed. 

The old Austrian custom is no longer observed of 
giving the body of a dead monarch to the Capuchin 
Church, the heart to the Augustinian Church, and the 
intestines to the Metropolitan Church of St. Stephen. 
The last personage whose mortal remains were thus 
divided was the Emperor's father, Archduke Francis 

The sorrowing Emperor, resting his head on the 
prie-dieUy remained silent and motionless for seven 
or eight minutes. Then the form of the prostrate 
monarch quivered, and choking sighs, subdued sobs, 
and half-suppressed moans were heard ; a cold con- 
vulsive shudder ran from man to man throughout 
the vaults, and the clergy, familiar with death in all 
its aspects and sorrow in all its degrees, wept and 
gobbed like children. 

3^4 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

A few seconds later the Emperor himself once more 
was seen entering the church. He signed to the Emperor 
William to precede him in leaving the house of worship. 
As he neared the door he cast a longing, lingering 
look in the direction of the gloom-girt vault, wherein 
sleep so many who have helped to make Austria's 
history, among whom the last will take a foremost 
place as one of the few of the dead whose works are 
active forces still and whose names burn bright as 
stars. Not for a long time after the departure of the 
Emperors did the other members of the illustrious 
company retire ; nor did the general public disperse 
until night had descended, with darkness denser than 
all the black flags of mourning. 

Soon after the funeral of the Empress, in reply to 
a question put by the Hungarian Prime Minister 
(Baron Banflfy), the Emperor said, " Do not grudge me 
work. On the contrary, I am minded to work harder 
now — the one consolation that still is vouchsafed me," 

Memorial services were held in almost all the capitals 
of Europe. The one in London took place at the 
Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, 
and was an extremely solemn and impressive ceremony ; 
the interior of the building was heavily draped with 
black cloth, and a cloth-covered catafalque was placed 
at the upper end of the nave near the sanctuary rails. 
The nave was reserved for the Corps Diplomatique and 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 365 

others especially invited by the Austro-Hungarian 
Embassy. Among the foremost of the mourners were 
the Duke and Duchess of York, the former being in 
naval uniform, and the Duchess wearing black with a 
long veil of crape ; Princess Christian, attired in deep 
mourning ; and the Marquis and Marchioness of Lome. 
Representing Her Majesty the Queen, came the Earl 
of Pembroke ; while Lord Suffield, Colonel Egerton, and 
General Bateson attended on behalf of the Prince and 
Princess of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, and the 
Duke of Cambridge. The Lord Mayor brought with 
him the sincere sympathies of the citizens of London. 

Needless to say, there was also a large gathering of 
diplomats ; each embassy sent its group of representa- 
tives. Russia, Spain, and Turkey were represented by the 
Ambassadors themselves. Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, 
Servia, Sweden, China, and Siam were all represented 
by their Ministers. In the absence of Count Hatzfeldt 
the delegates from the German Embassy were Count 
Hermann Hatzfeldt, Baron von Eckhardstein, and 
Herr von Oppell ; while for France M. GeofFray was 
present. The United States, Italy, Holland, Greece, 
Roumania, Japan, Peru, Chile, and Persia were also 
among the countries who had representatives present. 
Chopin's Funeral March and Beethoven's famous 
Funeral March on the death of a hero were rendered 
on the organ with great solemnity. 

366 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

A funeral service was also held in Paris, at which 
H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, attired in the full 
uniform of his high military rank, was present. The 
President of the Republic, who, owing to the Cabinet 
Council at the Elysee, was unable to be present in 
person, was represented by General Hagron. 

Not the least interesting funeral service was the 
one held at St. Patrick's Chapel, Maynooth College. 
Thirty-three priests and six hundred and thirty students 
were present, as well as a number of neighbouring 
residents, including Sir Gerald Dease, Lady Dease and 
her sister, the Honourable Miss Throckmorton, who 
had been for many years attached to the suite of the 
late Empress of Austria, and many others. 

The signs of mourning were universal, the navies 
of the world hoisting their flags half-mast on the day 
of the funeral. 

This chapter may be closed with a short resume of Her 
Majesty's will, to which a peculiarly mournful interest 
is attached, as it was only completed three months 
before her death — namely, on the 20th of June, 1898 ; 
and it opens with the remarkable sentence, " One never 
knows what may happen." 

It is pretty well known that the Empress possessed 
a very large fortune and income in her own right, 
but it is not very generally known that Her Majesty's 
collection of jewels was not only unique but in many 

Obsequies in Vienna and Universal Mourning 367 

respects considered to be one of the finest in Europe. 
A large portion of the collection, to the value, it 
is stated, of over ^600,000, is to be sold, and the 
proceeds are to be applied to various religious and 
charitable purposes. There are several special jewels 
which are to descend as heirlooms to the imperial 
family, amongst these being the Golden Rose presented 
to the Empress by Pope Pius IX. Nearly all that 
the Empress had in her own power to leave she 
bequeathed to her grand-daughter, the young Arch- 
duchess Elizabeth, daughter of the late Crown Prince 



36Q 24 




"The grief that all hearts share grows less for one." 

Sir Edwin Arnold (Light of Asia), 

SUCH a work as the present, which endeavours 
to delineate the character of a most admirable and 
unique woman, could hardly be deemed complete if it 
did not give at least a short sketch of the man to 
whom she was married, whom she loved with great 
sincerity, whom she admired, and to whom she has 
been all in all. 

Francis Joseph I., Emperor of Austria and Apostolic 
King of Hungary, was born in 1830, and ascended 
the throne of his ancestors on the 2nd of December, 
1848. He is a grandson of Francis I., the father-in- 
law of Napoleon I., and therefore a nephew of the 
Empress Marie Louise. His mother was a Bavarian 
princess who was much in the hands of the Jesuits, 
and influenced his earlier education unhappily. The 
events of the memorable year 1 848 were too much for 


37^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

the feeble-minded Emperor Ferdinand, who was then 
on the throne, and he abdicated ; his brother and heir 
declined to accept the vacant crown, and so he handed 
it on to his son, then eighteen years of age, young 
enough to be moulded to the new ideas. 

The early reign of the Emperor was full of troubles, 
worries, and vexations. The Hungarian revolt had to 
be suppressed, and he shared in person in the storming 
of Raab, a strong fortress in Hungary, at which time he 
received a slight wound. In the complicated struggles 
in Germany which followed the events of 1848 he 
joined Bavaria and Wiirtemberg in opposition to 
Prussia, and it was only due to the interposition of 
the Czar that war was prevented. In 1852 his life 
was attempted, but he was fortunately saved by his 
equerry and a citizen. In 1854, as we have seen, 
before he was twenty-four, he married his first cousin, 
the subject of our memoir, who was then a little more 
than sixteen years old. 

During the Crimean War the Austrian Emperor 
remained neutral, and was reproached with ingratitude 
by the Russians, as the Czar had helped him to 
put down the insurrection of Hungary five years 

The New Year's Day of 1859 brought a shock to 
Europe that must have disturbed the Emperor Francis 
Joseph considerably. At the reception of the foreign 

G)ncIusion 373 

ambassadors in Paris, Napoleon pointedly said to the 
Austrian representative that he regretted his relations 
with his master were unsatisfactory. A few weeks 
later war broke out between Austria and France in 
alliance with the then kingdom of Sardinia ; Austria 
being defeated, the Emperor made peace, conceding 
Lombardy to the new kingdom of Italy. 

At this time Germany was weary of its feeble 
confederation, which had become only nominal. 
Unification had been in the minds of all Germans for 
many years, but it had remained a dream because the 
smaller states were without power, and Austria and 
Prussia were opposed to and jealous of each other. 
At last in 1863 the Austrian Emperor, relying on 
his personal popularity, took a bold step : he sum- 
moned all the German rulers to meet him at Frank- 
fort-on-the-Main, where so many of his ancestors had 
been crowned, and asked them to discuss the future 
of Germany. With one exception all obeyed the 
summons of the scion of the Caesars, and it must 
indeed have been the proudest moment of Francis 
Joseph's life when he saw them rally round him. 
Unfortunately the exception was the King of Prussia, 
who had appointed Bismarck his Minister about this 
time, and who had remained deaf to the entreaties of 
the princes that he should join them. The conse- 
quence was that the meeting was abortive. 

374 Elizabeth, Empress o( Austria 

At the end of the year came the war with Denmark, 
over a question which was popular with the German 
people. Although Austria had little interest in it, she 
could not refuse to take it up as Prussia did so, and 
she was obliged to join in the contest, lest her rival 
should have all the credit of fighting for a popular 
cause. Two provinces were taken from Denmark ; 
the victors quarrelled over the spoils, and the strife 
ended in the Seven Weeks' War of 1866, in which 
the Austrian arms were most disastrously defeated. 
The Prussians came down from the North almost to the 
walls of Vienna, whilst the Italians attacked in the 
South. The peace which followed was made on terms 
that were most generous to the losing side : Austria 
lost Venice to Italy and recognised the supremacy of 
Prussia in the North German Confederation. 

In all this series of defeats neither Emperor nor 
people lost honour ; the Austrian armies were as ready 
to fight after defeat as before, and the people adhered 
to their unsuccessful Emperor with the same aflfection 
which in the subjects of Francis I. had excited the 
envy of Napoleon I. To the country itself the disasters 
proved beneficial ; the Emperor became a great con- 
stitutional reformer, and in this way he affords a most 
interesting instance of a man in whom such wide 
changes of ideas took place. As we have already 
mentioned, he was brought up at what was most 



probably the most bigoted Court in the world, under 
the iron rule of the Jesuits, proud and exclusive, 
absolute, autocratic, despotic to a degree — a Court 
where feudalism was paramount, and where the lower 

classes were looked upon as mere tools. The son 
of a weak father and a narrow-minded mother, he 
had become sovereign ot a great Empire when only 
eighteen years old, and within twenty years we see 
him one of the most enlightened monarchs, turning 

37^ Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 

from feudalism and autocracy and becoming an abso- 
lutely liberal constitutionalist. 

With the exception of the occupation of Bosnia 
and Herzegovina, during which he was compelled to 
employ force, peace has reigned for many years in 
the realms of Francis Joseph, and he and his Govern- 
ment have made good use of it. The sovereign 
is second to our Queen in length of reign, but not 
in labour for the good of his people, and it would 
be a very difficult task to decide which of the two is 
the more popular amongst their subjects. 

The relations existing between Francis Joseph and 
Elizabeth through the forty-four years of their married 
life were most friendly, and no serious disturbances 
of their conjugal peace occurred. After the Empress 
had retired from Court life, and had taken up her 
abode more or less frequently abroad, her spouse visited 
her from time to time, and frequently spent weeks with 
her. On those occasions they were generally observed 
walking without any suite and engaged in most 
earnest conversation ; it may well be said that their 
mutual love and esteem lasted undiminished to the 
end of Elizabeth's life, and therefore we can well 
understand the unspeakable grief which has been 
caused to the venerable monarch by her violent 

But not popular only in his own country, this 

Conclusion 377 

sovereign has won the esteem and love of most foreign 
countries, and the sympathy shown him in this his 
last terrible trial was so universal as to be entirely 
unique ; this is proved by the extraordinarily large 
assembly of foreign potentates and princes at the 
funeral obsequies of his wife. There stood the Emperor 
William of Germany, accompanied by General von 
Hanke ; and with a large suite the venerable King 
of Saxony. The Kings of Roumania and Servia ; the 
Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Duke of Edinburgh) ; 
the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia ; the Prince Regent 
of Bavaria ; the Crown Prince Constantine of Greece ; 
the Crown Prince of Italy ; the Crown Prince Danelo 
of Montenegro ; Duke Nicholas of Wiirtemberg ; the 
Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and he of 
Oldenburg ; Duke Charles Theodore of Bavaria, and 
his wife and daughters ; the Hereditary Grand Duke 
of Baden ; Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria ; Prince 
Albert of Belgium ; Prince Christian of Schleswig- 
Holstein, accompanied by Lord Denbigh (who is a scion 
of the House of Habsburg), as representative of Her 
Majesty the Queen of England; the Duke of Alen^on; 
and the Dukes Rupert and Christopher of Bavaria, 
were also present. The President of the French 
Republic was represented by General Faure-Biquet ; 
the Queen of Holland sent Baron Werner-Palland, and 
the King of Sweden Count Gyldenstolpe. The Duke 

378 Elizabeth, Emprcss"'of Austria 

of Cumberland and the venerable Queen of Hanover, 
who both happened to be absent at the time, were also 
represented. There had arrived representatives from 
Brunswick, Schleswig-Holstein, and Hesse-Darmstadt ; 
and the German Chancellor, Prince Hohenlohe, was 
present in person. 

It will be seen, when looking through the list of 
these illustrious personages, that there was an assembly 
of princes the like of which perhaps has never been 
seen in this world before. As a matter of course, 
too, the members of the imperial family were present. 
The Crown Prince's widow, with her daughter, the 
Archduchess Elizabeth, visited the coffin early on the 
day of its arrival in Vienna and laid wreaths upon it, 
the youthful daughter of Rudolf being so overwhelmed 
with grief that she had by force to be drawn away 
from the coffin. 

It would be impossible to enumerate the list of 
telegrams of condolence in this work. I have given 
some of the principal ones verbatim in the last chapter, 
and I may add that a very long one arrived from 
Pope Leo XIII., others from Queen Christina of 
Spain and the President of the Swiss Confederation. 
Besides these some were received from the German 
Empress ; the Queen of the Netherlands ; the Queen 
of Italy ; Sultan Abdul Hamid ; the Kings of Denmark 
Saxony, and Wiirtemberg ; the King of Portugal and 

Conclusion 3 8 1 

his consort ; the King and Queen of Sweden ; the 
Mikado of Japan ; the Queen of Belgium ; the King 
and Queen of Greece ; the King of Siam ; the Grand 
Duke of Hesse ; the Grand Duke of Weimar ; the 
Grand Duke Peter of Oldenburg ; the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Strelitz ; Leopold, Prince HohenzoUern ; 
George, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen ; the Duke of Saxe- 
Altenburg ; the Prince of Montenegro ; the Princess 
of Bulgaria ; John of Mecklenburg ; Charles Gunther 
of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen ; the reigning Count of 
Lippe ; the Sultan of Zanzibar ; the Khedive of 
Fgypt ; the Presidents of the Republics of Peru, 
Uruguay, and Chile ; etc. 

It has been decided in various towns to erect 
memorials or monuments to the late Empress by 
public subscription. In Buda-Pesth a very large 
amount of money has already been collected for the 

The universal sympathy which was shown on the 
occasion to the bereaved monarch has no doubt been 
a source of great consolation to him, and he replied 
to all those who forwarded sympathetic addresses in 
words of sincere gratitude. I need only give the 
message received by the Lord Mayor of London in 
answer to the telegram sent to the Embassy — a letter 
from Count Albert von MensdorfF, Austro-Hungarian 
Charge d' Affaires 

3^2 Elizabeth, Empress of Austria 


''Belgrave Square, Sept. 19/A, 1898. 

** My Lord, — I have not failed to convey to His Majesty 
the Emperor and King, my august master, the kind expres- 
sion of condolence that your Lordship has sent to this 
Embassy on behalf of the City of London. 

"I have now the honour to inform you, my Lord, that 

I have received the orders of my gracious Sovereign to 

express to your Lordship and to the citizens of London His 

Majesty's sincerest thanks for and high appreciation of their 

kind sympathy. I have the honour to be, my Lord, your 

obedient servant, 

** Albert Mensdorff, 
" Ausiro-Hungarian Charge iT Affaires. 

"The Right Hon. the Lord Mayor of London." 

It shows the enormous sense of responsibility and 
duty of the deeply afflicted Francis Joseph that he 
expressed himself at once to the effect that he would 
attend to the State affairs without interruption. He 
left shortly after the funeral for a long stay with 
his daughter the Archduchess Marie Valerie at the 
Castle of Walsee, whence he went to Godolo in 
Hungary ; he remained absent for some time from 
Vienna, in order to regain the calm so necessary to him 
after his recent great distress of mind. Meanwhile 
the Emperor had given orders that the apartments of 
his late consort should remain undisturbed. 

I stated in a former chapter that the weapon of 
the murderer and the surgical instruments used by 

Conclusion 383 

the Swiss physicians in making the post-mortem 
examination had been burnt in Geneva by order of 
Francis Joseph, who has acted in this in accordance 
with rule and old-world usage and tradition. It 
is a custom which is based partly on superstition, 
and partly on a determination to prevent articles of 
this kind from falling into the hands of dealers in 
curiosities, or being on exhibition in some more or 
less reputable museum. 

Although it has been impossible for me in this 
memoir to do full justice to the dead Empress, yet 
I hope that I have succeeded in giving a sufficiently 
true sketch of her late Majesty to show that, whatever 
may have been her eccentricities, her character was one 
of the most lovely and noble this century has seen. 
She is dead, but her memory will live for ever. 

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